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Chapter 2

“Irons grew up in the war, he’s a tough old man, as hard as they come.” Kinkaid said.

“Which war?” Dan asked.

“Crimean.” The Red Spider replied.

“Never heard of it.” Dan said, throwing his feet up on the desk. The Spider cocked his head and Dan remembered he was wearing a dress and put his feet back down on the ground. The Spider shook his head as if chastising the reporter.

“Russians call it the Eastern War, the British refer to it as the Russian War, I believe. France and England wanted the scraps left over from the Ottoman Empire, so did Russia. Irons volunteered when he was twelve, killed his first Russian at 15. Seeing the value railroads provided during the war, he put his small savings into construction and metal. Now in his 80’s, he’s one of the most powerful men in the UK.” The Spider laid it all out in his gravelly voice as Alexander Kinkaid merely nodded in agreement.

“Wait a second, you’re telling me Ms. Kinkaid had a relationship with this old Professor?” Dan asked, his voice dripping with disgust.

“I don’t think you are in any position to judge, Chase.” The Spider said gruffly. Dan glanced at him, a barbed retort on the tip of his tongue but he grimaced and kept it to himself. There was a secret between them, even Alexander could pick up on that, but neither man said anything else on the subject.

“She was a grown woman. As I said, I tried to talk her out of it but she is very stubborn. Very much like her Grandmother.”

“So how dangerous can this old guy be?”

“Irons is an old-fashioned man, from the old world. He’s made of sterner stuff than this generation of dandy boys and bearcats. They made them tougher back then.” The Spider said. “He’s been killing men since the war. In fact he’s the only man I’ve ever heard of who got an education by committing murder.”

“How’d he manage that?” Dan asked.

“Government sanctioned execution. Rumor is, in exchange for taking out a threat to the Royal Families good name, they got him into Cambridge.”

“Cambridge? Well ain’t that the bees knees.” Dan said.

“But can you get her back for me? Because if you can’t, I am wasting my time talking to a man in a mask and a man in a dress.” Alexander Kinkaid said angrily.

“We’ll find her.” The Spider said, heading for the door.

“Tell know one we were here. The fact that Irons hasn’t killed you yet means you aren’t a threat to him Mr. Kinkaid. Say nothing, play meek if you must, but do not tell him about me. Otherwise he will kill you.”

Alexander Kinkaid nodded in agreement and Dan followed after the Red Spider, stumbling slightly in the heels he’d squished his feet into.

“I think dressing up was an overly dramatic way of getting information. We could have probably just asked him.” Dan said as he gripped the railing of the stairwell with both hands and tried to keep up with the Spider.

“Yeah. But it would not have been nearly as fun.”

Underneath the stairs stuffed in a duffle bag were Dan Chase’s clothes as well as winter gloves and a scarf he’d picked up at the shop where they’d bought the dress. Changing quickly in the stairwell, Dan felt almost like a superhero himself. The Red Spider kept his back turned to Dan, keeping a lookout in the doorway. As Dan finished putting on his suit jacket, he jumped suddenly as a huge explosion rocked the building. The Spider was already running back up the stairs, back up to Alexander Kinkaid’s office. Dan tried his best to keep up as the Spider glided over two or three stairs at a time. Dan was almost out of breath and ran straight into the Spider’s arm. The Spider had secured the doorway, blocking Dan from entering what had once been Alexander Kinkaid’s office. Now there was nothing but a smoldering hole, the cold wind blew away the charred remains of the old man’s life. The debris rained down on the city, a gaping hole revealed the streets below, a hole in the very spot where they had all just stood. The Spider held Dan by the arm tight and with his other hand he pointed up into the air above. Through the smoke they could see massive dirigible, the size of a football field, flying away from the building.

“Professor Irons.” The Red Spider said, his voice boiling with fury.

“I’m coming for you.”

“As am I.” Dan said, trying to imitate the serious tone of the Spider. “To report, of course.” He gave the Spider a smile, his eyes watering slightly from the smoke blowing around them.

The Spider turned and headed back down the stairs, his red scarf trailing behind him. Dan took one last look at the remains of what had once been a very nice office and he sighed. The death toll was climbing and the situation was escalating. Dan knew it was going to get worse before it got any better.