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The Scarab Legacy

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Post Tue Feb 07, 2006 12:05 am
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Dan Garrett blinked his eyes, wondering why he couldn't see. He felt around, realized he was pinned under something. He thought back to the last thing he could remember.

He had joined an expedition mounted by his friend, and former student, Ted Kord. The goal was to find Ted's Uncle Jarvis and discover what was going on. Ted believed his uncle was building robots to attack the main land from Pago Island.

Jarvis Kord had assembled an army of mechanical men. Dan remembered activating his scarab to transform into the Blue Beetle. He had been winning, and then an explosion smashed him. He had the satisfaction that Jarvis would not hurt anyone else after that.

Things had gone black after that.

Ted must have thought he was dead. His friend wouldn't have left otherwise. Maybe this was the afterlife. He imagined Anubis weighing the scales of his heart to enter the underworld.

The archaeologist pushed, trying to get his arms out of being pinned down. The armor of his costume rubbed against his skin. He still had a chance with the strength he deprived from the beetle.

Garrett remembered finding the thing in a tomb of a forgotten king. It had spoken to him, asking him to be its champion. He had agreed, taking on the name of a hero who had operated during the war. His father had told him of the Blue Beetle many times.

Dan called lightning into being and blasted the material pinning him down. He realized it was the remains of Jarvis Kord's lab. He wondered how long he had been asleep. Ted might be lying close by, hurt by the explosion he had tried to block.

Dan's lightning blast gouged a depression in the pinning rock and wood. He fired again, hoping to drill through to the surface. The mass shifted, telling him that he had picked the right direction to start blasting.

Dan smiled. He had enough room to move his arms, to apply his strength. He would be out of this pit soon.

Dan pushed against the crater he had dug to get him some room. The supernatural strength he possessed allowed him to keep pressing, splitting the tons of weight trying to hold him down. The Beetle sat up, then made his way to his feet, until he was standing in the hole he created. He kept pushing until he had to stretch to push against the coffin lid.

Then he activated his flight to keep pushing upward.

The rock would bend to his will, and he would return to the world.

Post Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:29 am
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Mr. Justice floated high above New York. He had abandoned the human identity he had assumed when he first arrived from the bottom of the Atlantic decades ago. Occasionally he visited his sunken castle to remind himself of things long forgotten.

Dealing with the menaces of the world wore the dead prince down. More and more his cases were getting stranger and stranger with no one else he could call on to help him out. The Crusaders had formed around the second Shield, and he counted them as comrades, but they had their own fishes to fry. Sometimes he lent them a hand when he could.

Mr. Justice heard an alarm from nearby. He focused on it and descended into the city, passing through any material thing in his way. Some of the animals noticed him, and gave him warning to move on.

Animals and ghosts didn't always mix. Most natural creatures saw a phantom as something to fear and either run away from, or attack if possible. His flight speed allowed him to pass on before the owners figured out something was wrong with their pets.

Mr. Justice descended toward the alarm. His astral senses led him to the source of the noise in a matter of seconds. The ghostly avenger passed through a wall, looking around at a museum. The violated room lay ahead in the Egyptian wing. Someone had disturbed the mummies and other artifacts gathered from the desert.

Mr. Justice let his senses reach through the room, questing for a clue. He noticed absently that some of the disturbed artifacts had been donated by Dan Garrett, a well known archaeologist. He remembered another Garrett he had met when he worked for the Mayor's Office as Charles Justice. He hadn't seen the man in years, but had heard the flatfoot he had chastised had worked his way up to being a detective.

Mr. Justice reached a broken plastic display case. The artifact inside had been removed from its plush pillow. Plastic shards lay on the floor and on the purple pillow. A small fleck of something glowed on the tiled floor. He floated closer to examine it.

A small drop of green fluid reflected the security lights eerily. He had seen something like this before, but he couldn't recall where. He considered the liquid, then floated down the hall toward the back of the building. The culprit could have went anywhere, but the ghostly crusader thought away from the public entrances was the right direction.

Post Mon Mar 20, 2006 7:39 am
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Dan Garrett sat down inside the carved area above his tomb. Dust crowded the air from his lungs, but he was sure he could break out. He just needed a little more time. Half of the cavern must have fallen down on him after Jarvis Kord's explosive demise.

Dan wiped his masked face with his gloved hand. He looked up at the channel in the roof of his tomb. He wondered how much longer he would have to dig before he could see the sky again. He should have been killed. At least Ted hadn't been trapped with him.

Thank heavens for small favors.

Dan flew up into the channel, hovering at the top of the tunnel. He pushed on the tunnel until he heard a grinding in the rock. Finally he shoved an opening out of the way. Fresh air flooded against his face.

Dan pulled himself out of the hole, staggering to his feet. The island's contours had changed since he had been buried. The explosion must have been worse than he thought. How long had he been asleep underground?

Maybe he should check the news first before he let people know he was still alive.

The least he could do was fly back to civilization and check in with Ted. His former assistant had gotten him into trouble, and nearly killed. There was no telling what he thought.

Dan took flight, heading west. The night sky shone down on him as he soared under the power of his scarab. He decided that Hub City would be the best place to head to get his feet under him. Then he could break the news to Ted.

Dan loved flying. It was the best part of his gift from that ancient mummy. Discovering the scarab and the power that went with it had changed his life and forced him to confront weird menaces. Being able to fly was worth it.

Dan reached the East Coast, recognizing the Statue of Liberty as he whipped past. Sirens attracted his attention as he whipped through Manhattan on his way east. He followed the sound, knowing that he could lend a hand if it was an emergency.
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Post Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:23 pm
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Mr. Justice paused as he reached the street. The green droplet under the museum reflected a rainbow from the city lights. Droplet number four had smashed against the edge of a manhole cover.

The ghostly crusader floated through the traffic, and descended underground. He knew there were miles of tunnels serving different purposes under the city. Droplet number five reflecting on the shallow sewer water told him which way to go. He drifted after it, feeling a tug of memory.

Mr. Justice had dealt with a number of menaces since his castle sank below the Atlantic waves. One of them had to be behind this crime. One of the surviving ones had to be behind it at any rate. The type of monsters he fought rarely asked for quarter, and he had dealt with them in a permanent fashion when possible.

Still something about green drops lingered in his mind.

There must be a connection somewhere. Maybe if he kept moving, the answer would come to him. Then he could prepare to deal with the thief.

He found a body at the next intersection of pipes. Something had attacked a homeless man, and recently. He knew that some made a life under the city, and this man had met a grisly fate. Ripped apart was not what one expected when underground and away from most urban predators.

Mr. Justice knew where he had seen a body like this. That had been in a grocery store. The man responsible had been dealt with by himself and the first Blue Beetle. Mr. Justice had personally crushed the hatcheries and what Suvok Light had planned to let loose.

Perhaps they hadn't been as thorough as they had thought.

Mr. Justice poured on the speed, reaching out with his otherworldly senses. The green drops had to be the same as what was left by the monsters he and his ally had destroyed twenty five years ago. That meant the trail was ectoplasmic, which meant he could follow the signature rather than what he could physically see. That translated into faster progress as he flowed along the tunnel after his froggish quarry.

Suvok Light had been a madman during the war. The crusader didn't feel that time would change that. If anything, it granted him time to prepare and stop any interference to whatever plans he concocted to boost his own power.

The man had to be stopped before he unveiled his new scheme.

Post Tue May 02, 2006 4:37 pm
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Dan Garrett flew through the steel and concrete canyons of New York like a bird of prey. Howling sirens became police cars with flashing bubble lights on them. He kept them in sight as they rushed toward whatever emergency had been called in.

Dan found himself hovering above a department store. The police had gathered outside, surrounding the building. Green flashes of light moved in the upper floors. He could see someone had smashed a window near the roof.

Dan decided to land and talk to the police. He had an idea that whatever was involved would be less dangerous to him, than them. After all he was almost invulnerable in his blue chain armor. The police wouldn't be.

"Do you guys need a hand?," Dan asked as he drifted to the ground near the highest ranking officer he could see. "It looks like you have a strange cat burglar playing around inside."

"We already lost two of our guys," said the sergeant. "Whatever's in there chewed them up pretty good like wild animals."

"All right," said Dan. "I'll check it out for you before I head for home. I doubt any wild animal will chew me up."

"Just who are you?," asked the policeman.

"I'm the Blue Beetle," said Dan. "I had some problems, but I'm back in action."

"What about this other guy calling himself the Blue Beetle?," said the sergeant. "Hub City, out in the Midwest, seems to be his stomping grounds."

"I don't know anything about that," said Dan. "I'm glad someone took over for me while I was gone. I'll go in and see if I can find out anything for you. Do you know what year it is?"

"73," said the sergeant. "Where have you been? In a cave?"

"I was digging myself out of my own grave," said Dan, waving as he took to the air. He smiled to hide his amazement that he had been buried for five years. His whole life would have to be rebuilt now.

He could question his continued existence later. Duty called, even if he felt half dead and ready to go back to his tomb. He would just fly in to the broken window, track down the sources of the green flashes, and arrest them. How hard could that be?

Five years was a long time to be away. Ted must have thought he was dead after that explosion. Maybe he knew something about this other Blue Beetle. That was another thing to look into when he was settled back into ordinary life.

Ted might have told someone about him after getting back from Pago Island, if he got back from that place at all. Dan didn't remember if his friend had been standing in the clear from the explosion. He hadn't encountered a body on his way out of his tomb. Ted should have survived the blast and returned home to Hub City.

Maybe it was not coincidence that Ted and this new Blue Beetle hailed from the same city.

Post Wed May 17, 2006 7:58 am
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Mr. Justice followed the drop trail through the sewers, and then up in the streets. It led him to a building surrounded by police cars. The vibration on the air told him the beast was inside the place. He would have to go inside after it.

The scarab had to be a key to a spell. Anything Light did resulted in planned death. Mr. Justice couldn't allow that. His very reason for his continued existence was stopping those who endangered others.

The ghostly crusader headed for the broken windows on the top floor. That would give him a chance to close in on whatever was making green light from inside without worrying about being stopped by a warded wall.

A streak of blue launched from the street, evidently thinking the same thing. The flying man paused at the window before entering. The dead prince floated after the masked man, thinking that he had seen that costume before.

The two flew through the wrecked store silently. Mr. Justice kept an eye out for Light's hench things as he searched his memory. At least the trail they followed stood out clearer. Whatever had invaded the place had moved in a straight line, wrecking whatever got in its way.

The man in blue frowned when they reached a set of stairs leading to the middle of the big marketplace. Green light ribboned up from a lower floor, rushing through the cracks between door and frame. He pulled the door open with one gloved hand, and used the other to shield his eyes as he followed the spotlight to its source.

The green light erupted from a scarab inside a glass bottle among a horde of pet cages gathered from somewhere else in the building. Things that looked like frogs crossed with bears danced around the weird lamp. Some strange song emitted from their throats as they gyrated.

That's something you don't see every day, Dan Garrett thought.

"You have to stop and desist by order of the New York police department," the Blue Beetle called out. "That means everybody."

The monsters growled in fury when they saw him standing at the edge of their circle. He had to die so they could get back to their task ahead.

Post Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:49 pm
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Mr. Justice reached out with his senses. Suvok Light's frog things weren't smart enough to act on their own. They were perfect pawns, but not masterminds. Light had to be nearby. At least he knew where the scarab had been taken.

Mr. Justice remained invisible as he charged forward. He had to get that artifact away from the monsters. Whatever spell Light intended to cast, it wouldn't be good for the city. Strange lightning warped to strike at the ghostly crusader as he flew forward. He diverted his tackle into the floor, passing through as the jagged ribbons kept reaching for him.

That hadn't gone the way he wanted.

Mr. Justice floated just under the ceiling. He raised both hands to aim at the ceiling tiles. Arcane energies ripped forth at his command, ripping apart the material world with invisible light. The floor collapsed, falling through him with a cloudy crash. The scarab fell under the debris as startled frogs tried to land on their feet. The blue clad Dan Garrett barreled into the repellent things with swings of his mighty fists, dropping through the hole.

Mr. Justice passed through the small hill of rubble. His hand closed on the scarab, phasing it through as if it was a part of his phantom body. The charge created by the frogs had vanished as soon as he had torn the casting circle from under their feet. The crusader moved to the other side of the room as the Blue Beetle made short work of the minions.

"My name is Mr. Justice," said the ghost, becoming visible to his colleague. "Thank you for your help."

"No problem," said the Blue Beetle. "I'm the Blue Beetle, or I used to be the Blue Beetle. I had a long vacation but now I have to get my personal life together. I remember reading about you from when I was a kid. I hope you don't mind this hello goodbye thing but I have to get going."

"Now that you mention it," Mr. Justice said. "I would like to ask you a favor. Could you please return this to the museum. I don't want the mastermind behind this to know I am involved and looking for him."

Dan looked at the blue scarab. Then he nodded with a smile before taking it.

Post Thu Jun 29, 2006 9:36 am
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Dan Garrett flew into the night air, smiling as he headed for the police below. He needed to tell them that he thought he had cleared the building out if they wanted to go in, but they still needed to be careful. There might be more of the things.

"What are you going to do now?," the sergeant asked, pushing his hat back.

"I have to return this to the museum where it was stolen," said Dan. "Then I have to check on the things I left behind."

"Good luck, buddy," said the policeman.

"Thanks, Sergeant," said the Blue Beetle, taking flight once more. "I'll see you around."

Dan cruised through the sky, heading back the way the frogs had used to get from their thievery. It felt good to be back in the air again. Five years in a rock pile had passed like a dream. He would have to catch up.

He spotted the burglarized building after a few minutes. Police had already arrived there to make sure everything else was safe. All he had to do was hand the scarab over and he could try to find a place to stay for the night.

Dan landed beside the police car, frowning slightly when he didn't see anyone. The officers must have went inside. Shouldn't there be one at the door? That didn't seem right. Maybe he was overreacting.

Dan went to the door, peering inside to the foyer beyond through the glass windows. He didn't see any blue uniform under the soft lighting. One gloved hand tried the door. It opened easily to his touch.

Maybe there had been more of the monsters here in the museum than Mr. Justice had thought. They might have killed the policemen investigating the crime. He had to make sure either way. If they were alive, they would need his help.

He didn't want to think about it if they were dead.

He had already seen too many dead, and he didn't want to see any more for a lifetime.

Dan crossed the threshold cautiously. He expected things to go south in a hurry. Luckily he was stronger than those mutant things. Why would they come back to the museum after their theft had been successful? Something was wrong with this picture.

Dan knew that the exhibit for the scarab was across the building, and upstairs. The lack of policemen and security ate at him as he flew along, following the signs. Maybe the theft had been a distraction for something that had stayed in the museum. What else could be here for anyone to use as a mystic focus?

Maybe he and Mr. Justice had split up too soon.

Post Sun Sep 03, 2006 11:49 pm
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The Blue Beetle searched the building quietly. He didn't know who else was wandering around among the exhibits, or what had happened to the guards and police that should be on duty. The museum may have been a focal point for something that the azure avenger and his colleague had interrupted at the department store.

That could be good, or bad.

It could be good because whatever had been stopped when he rushed in and got the scarab back.

The bad part came because the magician was still out there and still trying at the center of the web.

That was something he would have to fix one way or the other. Things couldn't just invade New York and expect the Blue Beetle to stand aside. And he had a feeling that it was an invasion of some kind.

The Beetle heard some banging around in a stairwell at the back of the building. Someone was expressing their anger in the basement from the sound of it. Maybe he should talk to whomever was down there. They were making a lot of noise.

The Beetle pushed the door open and floated down the center of the stairwell. He wasn't trying to be silent. The other was making more noise than a marching band in full swing. Some guy walking on concrete wasn't going to be louder than that.

The Beetle passed under a burned out exit sign, stopping in the doorway to examine the room beyond. It was a basement with concrete walls separating the wide area into storage, examination rooms, and restoration. Screaming came from the storage part of the place. An open door allowed light to leak out in the gray area between Dan and the burglar.

Dan flew down the hall, landing inside the door. He frowned at the man smashing open boxes with his hands. Green slime dripped from his skin as he tossed the storage crates around. Rage filtered through the slime over his face.

"Looking for something?," the Blue Beetle asked, arms crossed over his chest.

"You again?," said the stranger, slime forming tentacles from the cuffs of his ragged coat and collar of his shirt. "Didn't you and Mr. Justice take enough from me thirty years ago."

"I don't know you," said Dan Garrett. "I don't want to know you. I just want to know what you're thinking to bust up valuable artifacts and making people disappear. What did you do with the guards and policemen?"

"You ruined my hatcheries," said the stranger. "How could you not remember that? You killed my precious."

"I think you have me confused with someone else," said the Blue Beetle. "I'm not the only one who has worn this uniform. Now what did you do with the people here in the museum, and why are you breaking these boxes."

"Following in someone else's footsteps will get you killed," said the stranger.

The slime tentacles reached for the Beetle lightning quick. The masked man raised his hands and let fly with lightning bolts. He didn't want to be smashed into pieces like those crates. The electricity splattered the first two as the other twelve kept going.

The Beetle backed out of the confining storage room into the wider hall as the slime followed. He loosed bolt after bolt as the tentacles tried to grab him. At least he was keeping them at bay, but he needed to get in close to deal with the brain.

The talk about hatcheries made Dan think of giant egg piles in a secluded location. Maybe it had been a good thing to wipe them out. He wondered if this guy's precious looked like giant frogs. That was another thing to find out after he dealt with the man.

Post Mon Sep 04, 2006 11:44 pm
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Suvok Light was angry. He had constructed rings of power connecting at certain places. He had assembled artifacts like the scarab from the museum for their latent powers. He had matured his children so they could help him carry out his plans.

All of that ruined in one fell swoop by a pretender in a mask.

Today Light was getting some satisfaction out of at least one Blue Beetle. It didn't matter if he was the real one or not at this point. He had to die to feed the young still waiting to hatch, and to quench some of the fire burning in the frog father's blood.

Light crashed into the hall. Ectoplasmic tentacles carried him as more reached for his retreating enemy. His nemesis was not going to make it out of the building alive. He promised himself that as he charged forward.

Thin lines of slime erupted from Light's body, fed by his anger. There were more than the Beetle could destroy with his lightning. They wrapped around him, piling on until he couldn't move, couldn't pull free.

Light slammed his prey into a wall first, then started whipping him around in the narrow confines of the hall, tearing up the concrete and light fixtures with his play toy. He was going to enjoy the next few minutes it took to crush his blue ball.

"I can't tell you how much I am enjoying this right now," said Light, swinging the azure avenger around in the gloppy covering before slamming him into the floor. The ectoplasm dampened some of the force but not all of it.

"I don't know what your problem is," said the Beetle between impacts. "But you're making me mad. This is your last warning, buddy."

"I'm making the Blue Beetle angry," said Light before bursting out in laughter. "You're emotional well being is the least of my concerns right now. All I want is to rip your head off your shoulders."

"I don't think so," said the ghost from the past, clutching as many tentacles as he could wrap both of his hands around. "Let's give you a taste of your own medicine."

The Beetle floated off the floor, pulling on the tentacles. He spun around, drawing the threads around him like a spool drawing thread. The spin was faster than Light could extend his limbs. The master of ectoplasm tried to anchor himself into the walls by grabbing hold with yet more limbs. That made it easy for the blue battler to spin up the tentacles around him until he marched down the hall at the frog father.

Light tried to run from the human tornado, cutting his limbs loose with a thought as he realized what was about to happen. His boosted steps carried him about ten feet when the whirlwind caught up with him. Slime covered the walls as his unnatural armor tried to cushion the impacts he took bouncing off the concrete blocks of the basement walls. He fell free moments later, head spinning from the ride.

"That was fun," said the Beetle. "Been out of action for a while, but I can still do the job."

"You're tougher than I thought," said Light, breathing deep, letting his anger build. "Let's see how tough."

Post Wed Sep 06, 2006 12:36 pm
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Mr. Justice flew through the air, ignoring the buildings that got in his way. Something nagged at him, but he couldn't figure out what. Flying around aimlessly wasn't helping either.

The ghostly crusader decided he needed to take a moment to concentrate on his problem. He sat on a cloud, examining the island of Manhattan absently as he floated along. Perhaps he let the Beetle go on his own too soon.

Mr. Justice narrowed his blank white eyes at the lines he saw appearing on the streets below. He should have seen the pattern before. The caster had concealed it from him. That took some skill, but the avenging spirit had dealt with the frogs before, and their creator.

Suvok Light had been demented, but skilled in the narrow arcane arts he specialized in.

Mr. Justice examined the outline carefully, flying down to view it more closely. A touch followed the magic back to its creator, and the ghostly guardian flowed along with it. This was the fastest way to find Light.

He wasn't surprised that the master of slime had reappeared. The surprise was more in how long it took. He and the original Blue Beetle had destroyed his children thirty years ago. That was a long time for a maniac to remain in hiding.

Mr. Justice followed the trail to a familiar building. He hadn't expected to have to return the museum. Light was full of surprises this time around. The ghostly avenger frowned as he passed through the walls following the scent.

He descended through the floor, wincing at the noise he encountered. Evidently the Blue Beetle had already encountered the master of slime. Neither man seemed happy about it.

Mr. Justice floated along the hall. He summoned his mastery as he saw the two men ready themselves for the next round. This time he wanted to put a stop to Light, and lock him away where he couldn't carry out any more schemes. He had already threatened New York twice with schemes big enough to wreck the population there.

The third time might be the charm.

Mr. Justice gestured with both hands. A circle wrote itself on the floor, scribing letters and numbers forgotten by men. A wall of light arose around Suvok Light. His slimy limbs battered at the caging wall.

"Let me out of here!," Light commanded, flailing about with his ectoplasmic arms. "Let me out now."

"I think it's time for you to be locked away," said Mr. Justice, appearing in the middle of the hall, cloak wrapping around him. "You are a danger to everyone you meet."

"I should have known," said Light, calming at the sight of his old enemy. "First the pretender, then you."

"What were you trying to do with your summoning, Light?," asked the crusader. "I found it incomplete."

"He came back for the scarab," said the Beetle, folding his arms over his chest. He didn't know what was going on, but knew enough not to indicate he still had it. "I think he wanted it for his scheme."

"I'm sure the scarab was the last piece in the puzzle," said Mr. Justice. "He's too cowardly to try his plan in the light of day."

"I'm tired of your interference," said Light, hatred glittering in his eyes. "You destroyed my children, and now you have stopped my creation of a home for their mother."

"Their mother?," the heroes said together.

"I think it's time you met her for yourself," said Light. "She might want words with you."

"How are you going to do that in there?," the Beetle asked, indicating the glowing circle around the mastermind. "It's not like you can phone her."

"Don't," warned Mr. Justice, raising his hand. He felt energy building up in the hall, knew that Light had done something even trapped inside the circle of power.

Post Wed Sep 06, 2006 12:37 pm
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The corridor did a flip flop before vanishing around the trio. Mr. Justice knew that a door had opened and shut like a bear trap. The resulting landscape didn't improve that feeling.

"What happened?," asked the Blue Beetle, taking in the vats of ooze in craters of purple rock. The stars overhead had changed themselves into unfamiliar constellations. "He moved us somewhere else."

"That's right, meddlers," said Light, grinning like a jack o'lantern. "It was easy to do, even confined."

Slime rushed out of the nearby craters, mating to the frog father's own supply. He grew in stature as the ectoplasm built him up to match the anger and hatred he felt. Glittering eyes glared down at the suddenly smaller heroes.

"That can't be good," said the Beetle.

"You two have been a thorn in my side for long enough," said Light. "This is where I put an end to it once and for all."

The heroes took to the air as tendrils reached for them. Every time Light moved, more of the ectoplasm joined him. Thousands of tentacles filled the air, wrapping around the Beetle as he tried to get out of the way.

"Pardon my reach," Light said.

Mr. Justice tried to flow into the mass like he had thirty years ago. If he could take control, he could disperse the spirit matter, and cut his nemesis back down to size.

The ghostly crusader vanished into the slime, becoming a red dot in the snotty green. He flowed through the semi-liquid mass for about a second, maybe two. Then he crashed into the ground, sliding on his face.

"I'm ready for you this time," said Light.

Tree limbs of ectoslime crashed down on the fallen Mr. Justice. He tried to turn intangible and pass into the ground to get some breathing room. The giant flail crushed him before he could gather his wits and escape.

Tentacles gathered the fallen hero up as laughter flooded the air. The other hero struggled valiantly in the clutches of the green strands.

"I think it's time for you two to meet Marsha," said Light.

"I'll pass," said the Beetle, trying to pull himself free from the deadly embrace.

"I don't think I gave you a choice," said Light, strolling along, dragging his victims behind him.

The Blue Beetle looked over at Mr. Justice. The spirit guardian seemed to be comatose from the tremendous blow he had taken. It was up to him to get them out of this mess. He hoped he was up to it.

Time for a little lightning.

The Beetle started his escape by blasting the ectoplasm around him with thunderbolts. He leapt free, aiming for Mr. Justice's mangled body. Lightning led the way as he pulled the crusader free with one hand as he passed. Tentacles reached for him, but the azure avenger reached for his maximum speed. He felt his power fading slightly.

It had been a long day, which just seemed to get longer by the moment.

The Beetle dodged the multiple strands of ectoplasm trying to wrap him back up. He saw a cave, actually an indentation, in the pockmarked surface of this new planet. He dove in, looking for a way out at the back of the shallow groove.

Light could drag him out of anything shallower than the Grand Canyon in a second.

The Beetle punched the purple rock in front of him. The stone was brittle. It gave way in front of him without a struggle. At least something was going as planned. He turned, blasting the entrance closed behind him.

Now all he had to do was get out of this rat hole before Light dug him out.

Easier said than done.

Post Tue Sep 12, 2006 1:25 pm
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"A world of ectoplasm," said Mr. Justice, clearing his head with an effort.

"Glad you're back with us," said the Beetle, blasting the back of the cave with his lightning. "We're kind of trapped like rats. Any suggestions?"

"I think so," said Mr. Justice. "Thanks for the rescue."

"It'll be temporary if we can't get out of here," said the azure avenger, pausing in his digging efforts. He could hear sounds of rock moving behind them. Light wasn't wasting any time trying to root them out of the bolt hole he had manufactured.

Mr. Justice grabbed the rock and pushed. The solid stone warped out of his way, forming a tunnel as far as they could see. They flew down the tunnel as tentacles burst into their redoubt behind them.

"That was nifty," said the Beetle, shooting lightning behind him as they fled from the living slime.

Mr. Justice turned, pointing at the tentacles. The ceiling and floor snapped together, shutting the limbs away from the fleeing heroes, cutting the blindly reaching things into a pool of mindless ooze when they hit the stone.

"Light has control of the ectoplasm that fills this world," said the crusader. "The only way we can beat him is to break that control somehow. The problem is I can't think of a way beyond what I used the last time. He's ready for that trick."

"The lightning stops those tentacles," said the Beetle. "Maybe we could use that to knock out his control."

"You'd have to be touching his real body the way he has drawn that extra mass to him," said the ghost prince. "Otherwise the effort would be useless."

"I can do that if you can run interference," said Blue Beetle, smiling. "It should be as easy as pie."

"I don't know how much interference I can cause," said Mr. Justice, not smiling but looking hopeful in a grim way. "But let's see what I can do."

"That's the spirit," said Dan Garrett.

Mr. Justice smiled at the little joke. He pointed at the wall again. Purple stone exploded in front of his gesture becoming a shower of daggers slicing into Light's extra fingers without mercy. The crusader flowed after the shrapnel, his body taking on a misty resemblance as he sped back the way they had came.

The Blue Beetle launched into the air. He hoped Mr. Justice knew what he was doing. Suvok Light had already hurt him once. Charging into action headlong was a good way to get hurt again. At least the stone shower had cleared the way for him to return to the surface and carry out his part in the sketchy plan.

The Blue Beetle blasted out of the hole in the ground, not pausing at two battling giants near the cave opening. He had asked for a distraction, and his comrade had given him one by changing his form to match Light's use of ectoplasm with a hundred hands growing from the trunk of his body. The azure avenger poured on the speed, aiming for the villain's upper chest.

The Beetle punched through the outer covering like a bullet. He did his best to ignore the wax feeling that seeped through his chainmail armor as he battled to keep on course. The azure avenger hit his target after much struggling. His idea had to work.

Garrett directed all of the power he could from his beetle into lightning. The ectoplasm rolled away as he poured everything out over the giant master of slime. The thunderbolt blew up a chunk of strange matter as it rocked the surprised Light back on his heels. A hundred hands pushed him over. It wasn't enough to stop the mastermind.

The Beetle saw that Light was reaching for more of the ooze to recover from the lightning and regrow his body from the damage it had already taken. He pushed his way up to get a view of the man's mouth. He waited for the right moment, then fired a lightning bolt into the head of the villain. That stunned the wizard into motionlessness as the electricity moved around inside the construct.

He needed a lot more power to make his plan work.

Post Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:03 pm
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Mr. Justice pulled back when he saw his monstrous opponent fall with smoke drifting from his face. The Blue Beetle had struck but it seemed his added power was little more than a stunner against the magic that Light was using to enhance his powers. Still the wizard looked dazed enough that the crusader could do something to tip their battle his way.

Mr. Justice formed one of his extra hands into a dagger. He stabbed Light in the arm with it. A second later, he poured himself past the master of slime's physical defenses, going for the mind. His will had to be stronger than his enemy's. This might be the only weak link they could exploit to win.

Mr. Justice oriented himself in a field of gray, darker bubbles bursting on what could be the ground. He looked for Light's inner self. Once he engaged the mind, the outside would be helpless. Hopefully the Blue Beetle could take advantage of the situation.

"You made a mistake, ghost," said Light, appearing as a mass of glop trying to be human but not knowing how. "You should have taken your punishment and submitted to my authority."

"It's my duty to protect the human world," said Mr. Justice, cape whirling around his tuniced form. "That's all the reason you need for what I do. Why don't you give up and live in your dream world free of harm?"

"My children shall inherit the earth," said Light, hands warping into sloppy axes. "They will be the new human race. No ghost or masked man is getting in my way."

"No more talk then," said Mr. Justice.

Frogs appeared in a circle around the combatants, glowing eyes watching the two patiently. A collective hiss escaped their wide mouths as the two enemies chose their tactics. Green fire marked their spots as they swayed in perfect rhythm.

Light swung his twin weapons with wild abandon as he and Mr. Justice circled each other. One cut would give him a handhold, then he could take his time. Bubbly laughter escaped his slash mouth as he reached for the crusader again and again.

Mr. Justice bobbed and weaved to stay out of reach, conjuring a sword to block when he couldn't get out of the way fast enough. Dueling was something he was familiar with from his days as a prince. He had long days of practice with sword and shield. The memories filled his head as he waited for the perfect opening. One stab would disrupt Light's control of his ectoplasm on the outside. That should help the Beetle finish the job with little trouble.

Light stumbled, gasping in pain. A hand grasped his melted head as he stumbled away from Mr. Justice. The other, still an axe, swung wildly to keep the crusader at bay. It was a weak defense that wouldn't stop a kitten.

The ghostly crusader stepped in, battening the warped axe blade out of the way. His other hand plunged into Light's chest. He had a flash of an image of lightning blasting into the outer body before he created a miniature sun in his submerged hand. He ignored the frogs hooting as Light's inner self cooked around his fist in a second.

The frogs burst apart, fading to gray as their father's brain shut down under the psychic assault. The last one gave out a mournful hoot as it turned to fog.

Mr. Justice shook his head, glad to be done fighting. He pulled the edges of his sword until it formed a crystal box. He grabbed the statue of a living spirit and placed it inside the box, shutting it off from the outside world forever.

It wasn't a perfect solution, but at least he wouldn't hurt anybody else trying to populate the world with his amphibian progeny. That's the best the crusader could do unless he killed the helpless wizard. That was a line Mr. Justice wouldn't cross.

Post Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:03 pm
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Dan Garrett looked out over the skyline of Manhattan and smiled. He was tired, hurt, in need of his life, and hungry after all the activity he had undergone. On the other hand, it felt good to know he could still be a hero when he was needed.

Suvok Light had collapsed in that other world while Dan was trying to subdue him. His summoned power fell away in a lake around him. Mr. Justice had appeared seconds later and explained what had happened. Dan held the comatose body, and found he was forced to agree with his colleague.

The authorities would not believe the slender man they had captured had been behind the frogs unless he confessed. Light was smart enough to hide his mania until he was free and ready to act again. That left the punishment up to the two heroes unless they wanted to walk away and allow the wizard to try and destroy humanity for his inhuman children.

Mr. Justice crafted a coffin from the purple stone that surrounded them. They entombed him in the cave, excavating a tomb that would hold the sleeping menace forever. No one would find the body and wake the prisoner where they left him.

The heroes returned to New York, discussing what to do with the scarab from the museum. They decided that the Beetle should keep it since it was the missing linchpin in Light's spell to turn the island into a monster haven. As long as Light was asleep, he couldn't use it. Any other mage wanting it would have to take it from the Blue Beetle, or any guardian he gave it to.

Mr. Justice vanished with the rising sun, nodding at the returned hero as he went.

Dan decided that the view from the Empire State Building would be perfect as the sun cleared the ocean. It had been a long time since he had enjoyed the sky, the day, the city. He needed to get some rest after everything that happened, explain things to the police, find a place to live. Those were important things that needed to be done.

But first he was going to enjoy the sun climbing over the roof tops, shining down on the city with the promise of the future instead of what could have happened.

It was nothing for Dan to imagine legions of frogs swarming over everything. Slime flooding the streets like a living person. Suvok Light holding the city hostage, hoping to expand his territory to the rest of the world. It was a nightmare vision that had come close to reality.

But it hadn't. Mr. Justice had arranged for a suitable prison for the murderer. That was the best they could do unless they wanted to execute the monster in cold blood. Garrett had agreed because he wasn't ready for that responsibility.

There was a chance that Light would return to hurt more people. Someone would have to be there to stop him. Dan knew the Blue Beetle would. It seemed destiny had already demanded that concession from him.

He had a feeling if not him, it would be some other Beetle who had to make that stand.


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