Board index The Mighty Crusaders Network Mighty MLJ: Fan Fiction YEAR OF THE FLY

YEAR OF THE FLY

Full fan fiction stories

Moderator: Rik


Post Mon Jan 24, 2005 12:47 am
C. Syphrett User avatar
Very Good/Fine
Very Good/Fine

Posts: 145

This story is based in the 5 Earths Project continuity, and is built on what was written before by myself, Brad Cobb, and Martin Maenza. For those unfamiliar with the setting, it assumes that there were 5 earths left after the great Crisis on Infinite earths. Earth 4 is a combination of Charlton and MLJ/Red Circle characters.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 1985-

Thomas Troy sat among the spectators behind the bar. It had taken months to get to this point since he, and his friend Joe Higgins, had captured his twin. It had cost him his practice, almost his life, but his friends had stood beside him as he had tried to rebuild.

Now the man responsible would face justice.

Kim Brand sat beside him. He knew she was watching the event as closely as he was. When he had been disbarred, she had stayed with him despite speculation and wild rumors by the press.

The jury came into the courtroom, filing to their seats. They sat quietly with the rustle of clothing. The foreman handed the papers to the bailiff, who handed them to the judge. The judge opened the envelope, reading the papers quietly. He passed the verdict back to the jury foreman.

"Will the defendant please rise?," the judge said, more command that statement. "Will the foreperson read the verdict?"

A grandmotherly-looking woman stood up with the verdict in her hand. She opened the paper, adjusting her glasses.

"We find the defendant guilty of all charges," said the foreperson.

Thomas Troy smiled, hugging Kim close as the judge gave the date for sentencing.

---

Tom and Kim left the courthouse, trying to get pass the reporters who waited outside for a comment. The case had seemed a simple case of jury tampering by the prosecutor. That had led to Tom being disbarred and unable to practice law for many months. Finally he had captured and proven the existence of his twin.

Now he could back to doing what he did best: putting criminals behind bars for a long time.

"Where do you want to go to eat?," Kim asked. "The writers have given me another day off tomorrow. Then I have to get back to the grindstone."

"Let's eat at your place," said Tom. "I have cases on cases that are piling up back at the office because of this."

"I believe it," said Kim, laughing slightly as she hailed a cab.

---

Kim Brand had an apartment that she paid for with her earnings from the soap opera she worked on. She had been stalked the year before and had switched places after putting the man in jail as Fly Girl.

The last thing she wanted was for some enterprising reporter doing a follow up and finding out her secret life.

"What happens now?," Kim asked as she browned some steaks in a skillet.

"I have been just doing research so far for the DAs office while the trial was going on," Tom said. "I have also been looking into things for people on the side. The Fly can learn things that I can't without a lot of due process.

"I think I can go back and start trying cases again depending on how the rest of it goes. At least now, the review of all of my cases will be stopped. A lot of guilty guys could have walked out of prison because of this."

"I have been thinking about taking some time off," Kim said, placing onion rings in the skillet with the steak. "How would a vacation sound to you?"

"Sounds great," said Tom, with a smile. "Where would you like to go?"

---

Tom and Kim took the rest of the week to make arrangements. Then on Friday, they boarded a cruise ship and sailed down to the Caribbean Sea. They spent two weeks without responsibilities to anyone else but themselves.

They reached New York harbor, ready to face the world again.

The Statue of Liberty looked down on them as they were towed to a dock. Tom hugged Kim close as he saw the familiar skyline. He was almost tempted to turn into the Fly, and fly the rest of the way home.

Almost.

They got a taxi back to Kim's place, laughing at some of the things that had happened on the cruise. Tom carried the luggage up as she went ahead and unlocked her apartment.

They ignored the flashing light on the answering machine as they went to the bedroom. It was the last night they would have together before having to get back into the rat race.

The next morning Kim switched the machine on as she went to raid the refrigerator for anything edible.

The messages were from work, and Kim's friends until a message in the strong voice of Joe Higgins said, "Colonel Boyle has died. The funeral will be in a couple of days at Wildwood Cemetery. Let me know when you get back in town."

Kim froze, as she registered the message. Then she went and played it back to make sure. Then she went to get Tom.

June 85-

Tom had his arm around Kim's shoulders as they stood to one side of the service. They had met just that year. The Colonel had impressed him at the time, still active despite the years in service to his country. The patch over his eye seemed more an affection than a necessity.

Joe Higgins gave the eulogy in a quiet voice. His hands shook a little as he talked. Tom had never seen him like that.

Still it had been a tough year for the Crusaders. Darkling and Malcolm had both been lost in battle with the Brain Emperor. Tom had been under some scrutiny by the authorities until Joe had helped clear him. Ralph Hardy had moved to South America. His sister, Rose, and brother-in-law, John Raymond, stood at the end of the group with their son, John, Jr. Paul Patton stood on Tom's other side. Tom didn't know the other people, but some were in formal uniforms.

Tom idly wondered why Boyle wanted to be buried in this small place. He was entitled to a full burial at Arlington National Graveyard. Someone should be playing taps with this quiet gathering under a looming oak tree.

The gathering quietly broke up one at a time after the coffin was lowered into the ground. Tom looked back, watching Joe stand beside the grave alone.

"Should we stay and talk to him?," Kim asked, following his gaze. "He looks like he needs someone to talk too."

"Maybe later," said Tom. "He might need someone to talk to, but I think right now he just wants to be alone for a while. I didn't see Bill anywhere. I wonder what happened?"

"Maybe he couldn't leave his post," said Kim. "It takes time for the Military to grant leave, especially for someone who's not a member of the family."

Tom took a last look at Joe Higgins, standing alone.

"I think we're leaving the last member of Boyle's family," he said.

---

Tom sat at his desk at work, going over motions to present in various cases that the DA was currently prosecuting. He had to be in court in the next few hours to present some of these arguments before the bench.

"I can't believe the Beetle disappeared like that," Jeff Hagge said, sipping coffee from a ‘prosecute this' mug. "The Sentinels are going nuts over this."

"What are you talking about, Jeff," said Tom, looking up from his paperwork.

"The Blue Beetle disappeared after busting up a hostage crisis," said Jeff. "It's all over the news."

Tom knew the Beetle was a frequent visitor to New York. The Sentinels had their base in Manhattan, and the team usually convened there when they had to meet somewhere. The New York federal prosecutor handled most of those cases that made it to court.

Sometimes the county prosecutors offices had to wrangle for extradition and who was going to prosecute who.

Tom filed his papers in his case. He pulled on his jacket. Maybe he should ask Joe to keep an ear out in case the team needed to get involved in things. He placed a call to the secure line at the base. The military operator on duty would pass the message to Joe.

"Fort Edwards," said the private on duty. "How can I help you?"

"This is a call for the Shield," said Tom. "Access code 349052."

"I am sorry, sir," said the private. "That access code has been disabled pending a review by the liaison officer. I don't know when it will be back on."

"When did this happen?," asked Tom, puzzled.

"Colonel Abernathy ordered it when he took over command," said the private. "All Crusaders are to stand down until otherwise notified."

"Thank you," Tom said, hanging up the phone.

---

Tom didn't have time to worry about that development. He had to get his things together and get to court. He still had a job to do.

It would be the first time he was before the bench since his disbarment.

It felt good to get back on the job.

Being the Fly was great, but it didn't pay the bills.

Tom spent the next few hours dueling with other attorneys for the lives of their clients. Sometimes he won his point, sometimes not. He found it was just like riding a bicycle. Once he got started, his skills returned to him quickly.

He returned to the DA's office after the afternoon adjournment. He still had to review cases that were coming up for trial.

The police arrested people faster than he could put them in jail.

There was still no word on the Blue Beetle as he turned a desk radio on to listen to the news. The world was following it because of the Beetle's standing in the hero community.

He wondered what had happened.

---

The next day found the prosecutors standing in a borrowed conference room. Bryan Smythe stood at the head of the table, regarding them with thin, brown eyes. This was a morning ritual with him to check on the progress of cases being pursued by his office.

Tom was glad to give his report and get to work. All of the cases that he had picked up were no brainers so far. All he had to do was present the evidence gathered by the police, without any side distractions.

Some cases did occasionally become twisted as the investigation continued, but Tom had been lucky so far.

"Everybody can go, but Troy," Smythe said.

The men and women filed out, caseloads in hands. Tom waited, wondering what was up.

"There was a murder last night at the Hilton, Tom," said the DA. "I want you to look into whatever the NYPD come up with."

"I don't understand," said Tom. "Do they have a suspect that should be indicted?"

"Not yet," said Smythe.

---

Tom went over to the Hilton, after locking his active cases in his desk. It was a minute flight as the Fly. He landed in an alley, changed back, and walked up to the glass front doors. He had to wave his identification to the patrol men guarding the entrance. He paused to get the room number from the man.

Tom took the elevator up to the floor, aware of the blue uniforms that seemed to be questioning everybody in sight. He got off in a cloud of blue as the cab came to a stop.

"Troy, how's it going?," said a wide man in a cheap suit. The badge on his collar glinted in the sharp lighting.

"You're the lead detective, Max?," Tom asked.

The round head nodded.

"It's a mess," said the big detective. "Usually we don't see an ADA until we have something to go on."

"Smythe asked me to come down and look things over," Tom said. "How bad is it?"

Max turned and led down the hall. He paused at the door, hands in the pockets of his coat. Technicians from the Crime Scene Unit were still busy going over the scene. A tape outline showed where the body had lain, but the room seemed absolutely clean to Tom.

"I thought you said it was a mess," Tom said.

---

Tom and Max waited for the technicians to clear out before they started to talk about the case. The lead specialist reported some kind of fluid around the spot where the body had fell. He would have the lab run it and give Max a report.

The detective nodded at the news.

"What's going on, Max?," Tom asked. "I'm impressed enough that this is a strange case, and a press nightmare."

"Mr. David Warshawski, insurance salesman, checked in last night about ten. He was alone as far as we know. We are still checking. At eleven, lady down the hall reported a scream to the front desk. The desk sent someone up to check. The employee found the body, called us."

"Let me guess," said Tom. "Mr. Warshawski was not stabbed, shot, or beaten."

"He was sucked dry," Max said.

"You're kidding me," Tom said.

"No, I'm not," said the detective. "When the security guard came in, he found the body was flat as a sheet of paper. One wound on his neck."

"I can see what could happen if the press got a grip on this," said Tom. "Are you sure it was a real body?"

"The ME says it is," said Max.

---

Tom checked with the Coroner's Office, as he left Max searching for witnesses. The Warshawski autopsy was scheduled after several others that had died in the night. Tom checked his court schedule to make sure there wasn't a conflict.

He was interested in the results of the examination.

In the world of superhuman violence, a strange murder was not unheard of.

Still he had not heard of anything like this.

He worked on the cases he had before he had to head over to the morgue. It was a simple flyover, and then a long walk down to the basement. He paused at the glass window that spectators could use.

Mr. Warshawski's body, what was left of it, was wheeled in under a sheet. It was as flat as Max had said it would be. The coroner looked as surprised as Tom felt.

"Hey, Troy," said a familiar voice.

Tom glanced over, saw Max and a taller man coming down the hall.

"Tom Troy," Max said. "This is my partner, Mike Logan. Mike, this Tom Troy, assistant DA."

Tom shook hands with the man.

"How's it going?," Logan said.

"The autopsy just started," said Tom. "Sorry for doubting you."

"No problem," said Max. "I hope it turns up a clue because right now we got zip."

"No witnesses, no weapon, no suspects," agreed Logan.

---

The Fly hovered outside of the Hilton later that night. He inspected the area around windows. He was hoping for a tangible clue. The autopsy had let him know that Warshawski had died because his organs and skeleton had been sucked through the hole in his neck. The CSU had not found any prints, blood, or other fluids at the scene.

His inspection did not show any forcible entry through the window.

The Hilton had sealed its upper story windows because of several suicide jumps a few years ago. It had been a popular place to throw yourself to the street until the management had gotten tired of it.

The Fly took to the air, heading towards Central Park. Maybe an evening flight would clear his head and give him some inspiration. Right now he was spinning his wheels until something turned up.

Maybe Greevy and Logan would come up with some lead before someone else was killed.

Something he could chase down to clear the case.

The Fly vanished into the night.

The Fly met Fly Girl as she headed out of the city. Other Crusaders would be converging on Fort Edwards to meet with the Shield. He wondered how many would be able to get to the meeting.

The Flys descended to the roof of Crusader HQ. Tom wondered what Joe had done to activate their access again. They landed as the Jaguar appeared in the sky overhead. They waited for the animal hero to land before triggering the retina scan to let them in the hangar.

"How's Brazil, Jag?," Fly Girl asked as they boarded the elevator to take them to the meeting room floor.

"The jungle has been quiet," the red clad Crusader said. "How's the Big Apple?"

"Not quiet enough," said Tom.

"Things are going fine, Ralph," said Kim. "Do you know what is going on?"

"No," said the Jaguar. "Joe was incredibly brief over the radio."

"Let's see what fire we have to put out this time," said Tom, holding Kim's gloved hand as he led the way into the meeting room.

The Shield, the Comet, the Web and the Black Hood were already present.

"Captain Atom has asked for our help," said Joe Higgins. "The Blue Beetle has returned with some information for us to act on. We're setting up a conference call with the Sentinels, the Atom Project, and John Raymond, sr., is heading an agency under FEMA. Atom will send us the computer files that the Beetle was able to save."

---

The Crusaders watched as the documents were sent from the Sentinels mainframe. The Blue Beetle narrated what the images were until the file stopped. Captain Atom explained that the Monitor wanted other heroes to rally to his efforts to save the multiverse. The Sentinels were going to meet his representative out west. The general plan was that the Crusaders would help anchor the East Coast with the military and FEMA acting to help the civilians.

The fate of the planet was in their hands again.

"Tom, could I talk to you in private?," Kim said, drawing her paramour away from the rest of the group. "I have something to tell you before we get involved with this crisis."

"What's going on?," Tom asked.

"It's probably nothing, but I'm late," said Kim.

"Late?," said Tom.

"You know," Kim said, making a gesture towards her yellow belt. "I missed last month, and I am late for this one."

"Are you sure?," Tom asked, mind reeling from the implication.

"Yes, I'm sure," said Kim. "Maybe it's nothing, but if we live through this, I'll have to check with a gynecologist to see if it means what I think it means. Using our rings slows what happens to our natural bodies. I could just be off."

Tom was torn between happiness and bewilderment. He didn't think he was ready to be a father yet. He hugged Kim, suddenly excited at the prospect.

"As soon as we're sure the planet won't fall apart," said Tom. "We'll make sure."

"Since we're going to be working in NYC," the Shield said. "Let's get a move on."

The group headed for the roof, the Black Hood lighting a fresh cigar as they went.

---

The Crusaders flew into New York quietly. Manhattan seemed peaceful as the heroes assembled outside of Central Park. The Fly wondered how long that would last.

"This is like waiting for the hammer to drop," the Web said.

"General Dove is getting the regular army together to help us," said the Shield. "A lot of our other members have been alerted, as well as most of the independents I could get. All we can do now is wait."

A small circle appeared in the sky over the harbor. It grew into a column, then a wall, then a tidal wave. Water and air boiled as it marched toward New York with a ravenous hunger.

"This is it," said the Shield. "Let's go."

Tom grabbed the super patriot's hand, lifting him into the air. Kim had grabbed the Web's hand. The Comet and the Jaguar flew on either side as they headed towards the ocean. Suddenly an unnatural onrush of jealousy flooded through the Fly as he glanced at Fly Girl and the Web.

He recognized it as wrong, but the emotion clouded his mind with fury. He didn't notice how the others also seemed to be fighting some inner turmoil.

As they cleared the park, Tom let go of the Shield. The all American crusader headed for the street as the Fly pulled out his buzz gun.

"What are you doing?," exploded the Comet as he headed down in a flash to catch the Shield.

Sweat rolled down Tom's brow as he fought with himself. Then he pulled the trigger on the buzz gun. A sonic blast flung the Web back towards the park.

"Touch my girl, will you?," Tom gritted out. "What's going on?"

The Jaguar raced to catch his nephew. Instead of catching him, he punched the Web while he was helpless. The luckless hero headed for the trees, trying to roll with the impact.

Orange hands from an orange helicopter caught the Web as the vehicle suddenly appeared over the trees. E=mc2 was written on the front of the chopper as it deposited the hero on the ground. The Jaguar descended to knock the vehicle from the sky when a buxom redhead in an orange, one piece, bathing suit flew into the air on yellow jet skis and blasted him out of the air with energy from her hands.

---

The Fly hovered, lost in the sway of emotions. He knew the turmoil was artificial. That part wasn't in control.

The part that was fired sonic whip cracks at his comrades and love as they struggled with each other. The sky was a dog fight between the heroes.

People were rioting in the face of the destructive wave approaching from the Atlantic and the red sky overhead. Tom noticed that the Black Hood and a guy in a silver suit with antennae ears was trying to fight clear as the mob overwhelmed them.

The guy in silver has arms like Popeye, Tom thought, before the Comet slammed him into a tree. He bounced through the limbs to a hard landing on the grass. The orange helicopter transformed into a giant flying slingshot that sent the Comet into the ground beside his earlier target.

Tom shook his head, caught between dizziness and sudden hatred. He punched the Comet in the face before the other man could get to his feet. A buzz gun blast sent the older hero into a tree.

"That'll teach you," the Fly said.

Nova chased Fly girl across the distorted sky, firing blasts from both hands. They circled, dove, spun, climbed, and then Kim was behind her opponent and blasting her out of the sky with her buzz gun. Nova went into a tailspin, then smashed into the sidewalk.

---

The Fly leaped into the air, still wrapped in his emotional turmoil. He led the Jaguar in a circle as he tried to get in position to knock the animal man out of the sky. A blue shape grew in front of the battling Crusaders. A giant hand waved, knocking the airborne combatants out of the sky.

Mr. Justice planted his feet on the ground, concentrating on each hero. His gaze seemed to restore order as he expended his small energy. He grew more transparent as he willed calm over the surging mob.

The red sky shifted, flexing improbably as the Earth 4 universe moved into the limbo created by the destruction of the Monitor. Suddenly the crowd came to their senses, looking at the damage they had done in their rage.

Tom thought he saw a dinosaur but it was gone before he could point it out.

"My friends we are in the grip of a multiversal crisis," said Mr. Justice. "We will be needed more than ever in the next few days."


---

The Monitor's agent took the Blue Beetle to meet with representatives of the other universes and the other agents. The Beetle came back with the basic plan. An assault into the antimatter universe by the heroes to keep the five universes from explosively combining.

The Comet and Captain Atom was selected to be part of the strike force because of their energy based powers.

The Monitor's agent, a man named Pariah, appeared at the Crusader building with Atom in the folds of his cape. It was hard to tell which man was grimmer, the Comet or Pariah. They vanished with a swirl of his green cape.

"This is bad, Tom," said Kim. "We should have been allowed to go with them."

"John can take care of himself," said Tom. "Ever since his return from Altrox, he has been distant. Maybe this is what he needs."

"I know it's a vague chance," said Kim. "I just wish we could have gone, too. Especially after losing Darkling, Malcolm, and Lancelot. How much is too much?"

Tom didn't have an answer to that.

The Crusaders waited monitoring the strip of area where time was mixing together from the five Earths. Troops were in place, but chaos ruled the streets at the moment. It was a calm chaos.

The Comet was returned in the arms of Captain Atom, struck down on the other side of the antimatter veil. The super soldier handed the body over silently. He tried to apologize but words couldn't convey what any understanding of what others felt.

---

Tom waited with the Shield and Kim as a ship descended towards the space in front of the building. Captain Atom waited with them patiently. He hadn't dealt with Altroxians in his travels in space.

The pilot opened the hatch and descended quietly frowning at the body in the bag that waited on the ground.

"The Comet?," he said, gesturing at the rubber bag. "What happened?"

"He died in battle," said the Shield. "I'm sorry."

"Is it all right if I take him to my home?," said the pilot. "Perhaps I can revive him with our technology. At least I can give him a proper place beside the woman he loved."

"What's going on here?," shouted Colonel Clayton Abernathy, running towards the group. "Who is this? You don't have clearance to land on my base."

"The General is taking the Comet's body with him back to Altrox," said the Shield, distaste flickering over his masked visage. "What do you think is going on?"

"That body is property of the United States Army," said Abernathy. "It's going a lab to be looked at."

"Abernathy, the Comet was doing us a favor," said Higgins. "I am not about to let your lab boys cut his body up for your personal pleasure. Beat it."

"You can't talk to me like that," shouted Abernathy. "I am your commanding officer."

"No, you are not," said Fly Girl. "We're civilians with special clearance."

"You are our liaison," said The Fly, standing beside her, holding her hand. "You don't give us orders. You are supposed to get us what we need to do what we do."

"What did you say?," barked Abernathy.

"They said," said an inhuman voice from behind the colonel. He turned to find himself staring into eyes like death. "You're overstepping your bounds.

"Boo."

Abernathy screamed. Then he fainted.

---

Captain Atom handed the Comet over to the Altroxian general. The man, alien, nodded at the heroes. He knew their officer would look at this as a personal slight. There was nothing he could do about that. He would take the Comet back to Altrox, hopefully reviving him before they arrived home.

Captain Atom and The Shield backed up to let the ship rise into the air.

"Thanks for the help, Shield," Captain Atom said. He held out a metallic hand.

"Its not over yet," said The Shield, shaking the captain's hand. He looked up at the sky. "Not by a long shot."

Atom nodded, then vanished into the red sky.

"Joe," said Tom. "Kim and I would like to talk to you."

"Go ahead," said Joe, frowning at his comrades.

"We're getting married and leaving the team for a while," said Kim.

"Excuse me," said Higgins.

"We're getting married," said Tom. "We want you to be the best man."

"Congratulations," said Mr. Justice, stepping into the silence the announcement had caused.

"I'm sorry," said Joe. "I guess I was amazed. I'll be glad to do the job. When are you going to have the day?"

"We don't know yet," said Tom. "We're going to go home and discuss it."

"Right," said Joe Higgins, feeling slightly shocked.

---

Tom and Kim sat on her sofa, looking at the red sky through her balcony doors. He held her close to him. They had been like that since their return from Crusaders HQ.

"When do you want to have the wedding?," Kim finally said to break the silence.

"I want to say as soon as possible," said Tom. "We'll have to arrange things with your family. I'll bet they'll be as surprised as Joe was."

"I don't see why," said Kim, smiling. "We've been dating for twenty years. Probably think its about time we tied the knot."

"I think we need a professional," said Tom. "That will at least help us make up our minds what we want to do."

"A wedding planner?," asked Kim.

"I don't see why not," said Tom.

"I'll look around for one," said Kim, snuggling closer.

"I'll look for the wedding planner," said Tom. "You still have to talk to your doctor."

"Don't remind me," said Kim. "I'll set up an appointment for tomorrow. Life has to go on."

"Yes, it does," said Tom.

A tri-wing plane floated pass the balcony serenely as the lovers kissed deeply.

July 1985

The two had managed to make it to Kim's bed, enjoying themselves until they fell asleep. Tom felt like he had just closed his eyes when his beeper started buzzing at him. He blearily opened his eyes, the radio clock by the bed shouting four a.m. at him.

Somebody is dead, he thought as he read the number on the beeper. He didn't recognize it.

Tom slipped out of bed, aware that Kim had been awakened by the beeper. He walked into the living room and used the phone to dial the number.

"Troy?," said the rough voice of Max Greevy when the phone on the other end picked up.

"It's me," said Tom. "What have you got?"

"Another flat man," said the round detective. "This time, it's at the Zanzibar. Do you know it?"

"Yeah," said Tom. "I'll be there in a few minutes."

"We'll be waiting," Max said, too cheerful by half.

"Is there something I can do, Tom?," said Kim, wrapping a robe around her.

"No," said Tom, picking up his pants. "It's too late for this guy, whomever he is. I'll be back as soon as I can."

"I'll get some coffee ready," said Kim. "This looks like it's going to be a long day."

Tom nodded, dressing as he headed for the balcony. He wished he were the Fly as he threw himself over the rail.

- - -

The Fly dropped into an alley a few blocks away from the Zanzibar, but Thomas Troy stepped out of the mouth. He walked to the hotel, frowning at the thought the place might have some kind of curse.

The last time he had been here, the Crusaders had been brain-napped by the Druid and some other dimensional psychics. Two groups called the Justice League and the Justice Society had freed them, and foiled the Druid's plan.

The Druid escaped at the end of the battle and a heroine named Zatanna had placed the jewels the Druid had coveted beyond his reach.

Tom glanced at the red sky as he reached the revolving front door and headed to where the body was. He had no doubt that would be the floor cordoned off with people being questioned and moved to other rooms.

The method was as predictable as it was systematic.

Tom took the stairs, identifying himself when he found the right floor. The beat cop let him pass as Greevy showed himself at the open door to the crime scene.

The big man chewed an unlit cigar as he waited for the techs to get done with their job.

- - -

"What have you got, Max?," Tom asked, hands in his pockets.

"We have a white male, 40 to 50 years old, flat as a pancake," said Greevy. "Same modus as the other vic. Single wound in the neck. No signs of forced entry."

"Witnesses?," asked Tom.

"Two couples on honeymoon on each side," said Max. "Didn't hear a thing. Businessman across the hall, one night stopover. Also didn't hear a thing. We're canvassing the hall, and the floors directly above and below in case someone saw our guy do his thing."

"I wonder how likely that is," said Tom.

Max shrugged.

They both knew that detective work was done at a plodding pace, and not much could be done without evidence of some kind.

"Get what you can," Tom said. "I'll come down to the precinct and look it over with you tomorrow. I refuse to believe there's not some kind of link, even if the victims were random."

"Are you going to ask for a task force?," asked Max, chewing on his cigar.

"Depends on how fast we can gather enough evidence to crack this," said Tom. "Smythe will want some kind of progress, one way or the other. This guy isn't going to stop until we catch him."

"Right," said Greevy.

- - -

Tom dragged himself into the 27th, clutching a 40 oz. plastic mug of coffee. Greevy and Logan had moved their files, photos, lists, and the post-mortem on Warshawski in a large conference room on the fifth floor of the brick building.

Three pairs of red eyes glared at each for a moment before they began sorting what the canvases had netted.

"David Warshawski, white male, middle aged, insurance salesman," said Max, writing on the chalkboard on one wall. "Bard Spenser, white male, middle aged, realtor.

"A guest reported a scream in the Warshawski killing. Hotel security found the body. Spenser had turned his music up too loud. An assistant manager went up to tell him to shut it off. Found the body when she unlocked the door and went inside because he didn't answer.

"The guests on either side of Spenser didn't hear any struggle, didn't see anyone."

"You said a scream tipped off the Hilton staff," said Troy. "Who screamed?"

"We don't know," said Logan. "Whomever did it got out of there quick. No one remembers a woman going to Warshawski's room. We figure he picked up a pro, who didn't stay around long enough to answer questions."

"It's a potential witness if we can find her," said Tom.

"We're going through the credit card use both men had," said Greevy. "So far nothing unusual has come up."

"What else do we know?," asked Tom.

"Warshawski was divorced, Spenser was happily married," said Greevy, placing witness and a ? To one side of his diagram. "Both women were with other people at the time of the murders."

"Mrs. Spenser said that her husband expected to catch his plane today," said Logan. "Warshawski's coworkers said that he was supposed to catch a plane the day after his death too."

"Travelers only staying for one or two nights?," said Tom. "That's a very narrow window of opportunity. Did the killer know they were staying one night?"

"He was extremely lucky to hit two for two," said Greevy.

"See if you can find out how many people knew that," said Tom. "It might be nothing, but you never know."

- - -

August, 85

Tom met Kim for lunch at a place called Archie's. It was a small restaurant, not far from the courthouse. They got a table, waited for their waitress, and ordered quietly.

"It's official," said Kim, smiling. "The rabbit died."

"How far along?," asked Tom.

"Almost eight weeks," said Kim. "I am going to retire Fly-girl unless it's something important. I'll tell the team at the next meeting."

"I found a wedding planner," said Tom. "I checked him out. He seems reputable and dependable. When do you have time to go with me to see him?"

"They are writing my pregnancy into the storyline," said Kim. "How about the day after tomorrow?"

"My calendar will be free," said Tom, already thinking how he can juggle his case load for the time he needed to be out of the office.

"Do you think this is a good move?," said Kim. "You'll be in the public eye more."

"I can handle it," said Tom. "Being a prosecutor is not low pressure job in itself."

The food arrived, the waitress placing their plates on the table gracefully. She left with a promise to bring them more tea, and coffee.

"Are you ready to have a baby?," asked Tom.

"I think so," said Kim. "Hopefully I can get some mother's books so I won't be lost. Are you ready to be a father?"

"I haven't thought about it yet," said Tom. "Maybe not."

- - -

Tom and Kim met at the Lemuel Toadkin's office. Mrs. Grillo, the secretary, nodded at them when they gave their names. She announced them, then went back to work.

The inner office door opened, revealing a man in an old fashioned suit, squat and short with a round bald head. Wide eyes looked at the pair with a gleam.

"I'm Lemuel Toadkin," he said, holding his hand out. "How can I help you?"

Tom shook the hand, then Kim. His nerves calmed at the professionalism he saw. Maybe this won't be that bad.

Lemuel indicated two chairs for them as he went to his desk.

"We want to get married in September," said Tom. "The last Sunday in the month."

"That's awful short notice, Mr. Troy," said Toadkin. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," said Kim. "We would like a ceremony at a church, with a reception for at least twenty people."

"I see," said Toadkin. "I can't promise the availability of a church this short period of time. Do you have any second choices?"

"Not off hand," said Tom. "If worst comes to worst, I guess we could rent a ball room at a hotel."

"Understood," said the planner. "Do you have a list of guests with their addresses?"

"Right here," said Kim. "We worked on it last night."

Kim handed over a piece of paper with the names of the guests on it. Wide hands took the paper and placed it in a new file.

"I'll call around and see if a church is available, then a caterer," said Toadkin. "Then we'll have to pick out how you want your invitations to look, then we'll start looking at dresses and so forth if you don't already have one picked out."

"Thanks," said Tom.

"Wait until you see the bill," said Toadkin. "I have to go to a rehearsal, but will call you when I know something."

- - -

Tom and Kim looked around the meeting room table. The group was small. Only the Shield, the Web, and the Black Hood were present. The Jaguar had returned to South America, The Comet, Lancelot Strong, and Darkling were dead.

The Group had worked with Paul Patton, the Fox, and Delilah Monaco, the She Fox, as well as the second Captain Flag. They weren't present for this meeting.

"We have talked about this," Tom said, standing at the head of the table. "Kim is going to step down as Fly-girl until she has our baby."

The assembled heroes stared at the two.

"We plan to get married next month," Tom continued, taken aback by the expressions on his comrades' faces. "Invitations are being readied to send out, but I wanted to invite all of you in person."

"That's great, Tommy," the Hood said, lighting a cigar. "I'm real happy for you."

"Thanks, Kip," Tom said, wandering when he had picked up the habit. Kip used to smoke plain cigarettes, but since his uncle had died he had been acting erratically.

"We all are," said the Shield, a smile flickering across his face.

The alarm sounded from the monitor board. The Shield leaped from his seat, racing to the screens.

"I have time for one more emergency," Kim said.

- - -

New York was in chaos.

A plastic giant stood, breathing chemical fire on the harbor. The Blue Beetle's Bug floated on its back as the water burned around it.

"What the hell is that?," the Black Hood said, chewing on his cigar.

"We have our own problems," The Shield said.

A crowd of grim figures surrounded the compound. Two stood out above the rest. One had a transparent skull, revealing a brain that pulsed lightning in the air around him. The other, a man in green with a gold medallion and green hood waved his hand to rip up the fence with a pyrokinetic display.

"Why now?," said Tom. "It looks like every villain we ever fought, and some we haven't."

"What about the others?," Kim asked.

"It looks like the world has gone crazy," said the Web, checking the monitors. "The Hidden One has invaded Peking, and Red Star has just been taken out over Moscow."

"Let's see what the defensive array can do," said the Shield, flipping the automatic defenses on.

"Abernathy is keeping his troops back," said the Hood.

"Later," said Joe Higgins, grimly.

Autoguns revealed themselves, firing rubber bullets at the invaders. The soft projectiles worked well the first attack. Then the villain reduced them to scrap in seconds as various energy and conventional weapons were brought to bear.

"We only took out the minor leaguers, and not many of them," said the Hood. "Stage two?"

"Do it," said the Shield. "Flies cover the roof hangar, Web, take the secondary door at the back. I'll take the front. Do what you can with the defenses, Hood, then help the Web.

"Let's move."

The Crusaders separated, ready to battle, no matter how overwhelmed they were. Lightning flashed across the red sky as the Villain War swept over Fort Edwards.

- - -

Tom and Kim waited patiently on the floor beneath the hangar. The villains would have to force the door, allowing the Flies a chance to fire on them unmolested.

They should be able to take some of the enemy down.

The Brain Emperor blasted a wall down. The Fly and Fly Girl were revealed by that action. Their pistols buzzed, sending some of the Eradicators and loose independents flying.

"Suppress them!," shouted the Emperor, lashing out with his mental lightning.

The Fly pushed his love out of the way, letting the blast strike the wall behind them. The other villains let loose with their own natural abilities and weapons at their disposal. The whole front of the building collapsed on top of the insect couple.

"Good job," said the Emperor, laughing maniacally. "Punch a hole inside. We mustn't keep the Shield waiting for us."

Tom had caught the weight of the brick and concrete as he fell under the devastating blow. His wings beat under the load, cushioning the blow for Kim.

They had to dig out to help the rest of the team.

The world was counting on them to drive the villains off. Tom had spotted where the Sentinels had been smashed by strange powers appearing in Manhattan.

August 1985

Tom dug out of the rubble as fast as he could. Kim was under him as he pushed the debris away with his superhuman strength. The Sapper had been watching the battle from a safe distance. He thought it was safe.

A gloved fist smashing his face told him otherwise.

The Fly was back in the fray.

Tom used his buzz gun to clear a path through the mass of villains trying to deal with the Shield. His sonic blasts were joined by beams from Kim's. Their surprise attack let them retreat to the ruin of their building.

There was no sign of the Web, or the Black Hood. The defensive array was stripped, so the Hood might have abandoned the command center to help his comrade.

The trio sought cover behind a shattered wall.

Bodies lay everywhere on the ground, testament to the Shield's fighting prowess. Still he had been battered by the assorted foes.

"We need some help," Kim said, brushing her lank hair out of her face. "I'm beat just from getting out of that pile of stone."

"So am I," said the Shield. "I have been keeping them as busy as I can, but I have taken some solid hits."

A jet appeared in the sky over the base. A man in a black and blue costume fell out of the back, jumping from a cargo door. He hit the asphalt and bounced smashing the Eraser halfway across the battlefield. Stretching limbs scattered the surprised enemy as parachutes opened in the sky.

"Looks like we have some help," Tom said as he fired a blast into the Buzzard.

- - -

"Isn't that Captain Flag?," said Tom, blasting all around him with the buzz gun.

The newcomers had landed among the villains, attacking their surprised enemies viciously. A man with a steel fist shouted orders as he floored the nearest foe he could reach. The rest of his team formed a phalanx as they ripped the center of the Brain Emperor's allies.

The ground vibrated under the fighters. Mr. Justice exploded out of the ground. His giant hand closed around Dream Demon and crushed her as he looked for her master, the Druid. Enemy weapons exploded when his gaze settled on them.

His reappearance on the field after he had been trapped by the Druid and others demoralized the combatants.

"Stop!," said a voice heard across the five earths. "You must cease this mindless battle for while you fight, the end of all the universes is at hand. Hear the word of the Spectre and learn what you must do.

"The Anti-Monitor still lives!

"And now he seeks the destruction of all life!"

What next?, Tom thought, as he holstered his pistol. The inhuman voice had drowned any other thought with the importance of its words.

- - -

Tom hugged Kim as they waited in the desert on Earth 1. Everywhere he looked stood men and women in costumes, preparing to give up their lives for the five universes that still existed.

Tom wondered how many were going to make it back from this as he stood on a platform with some of the heroes of his world. The Crusaders and Sentinels were on one platform, while a lot of the independents had grabbed random platforms provided by Travis, and the Legion.

A man dressed like Uncle Sam gave a speech, then the electric and magnetic heroes activated their powers, three speedsters began to run to generate the power needed to drag all these heroes to the Dawn of Time to face the Anti-Monitor. The world vanished as the platform began dropping through the years.

Tom wondered what the Dawn of Time would look like as the platform moved faster and faster through the millennia.

Suddenly the heroes stopped in an almost pure whiteness. A giant humanoid waited for them in a blue and silver shell. The Pariah floated in front of the being encased in a bubble of orange energy.

The heroes leapt to the attack, Tom and Kim firing sonic beams to go with the various blasts emitted by the others. Tom watched as the powers had no effect on the giant Anti-Monitor. A field erupted from his hands, and the Fly felt his power drain away to nothing.

- - -

Tom could barely lift his head, as the Anti-Monitor gloated over his victory. The universe was about to be destroyed thanks to its protectors. Everyone who had been left in the present would be written out of existence as the Anti-Monitor rewrote history.

Suddenly a grim white and green figure appeared, grappling with the Anti-Monitor, shoving his hand back down in the cascading whirlpool. Tom thought he saw Mr. Justice, floating beside a man in black with a scarf, but reality seemed to be fracturing apart as the two giants waged war against each other.

The whiteness shattered washing over the heroes, rewriting the world as Krona looked on and was blasted himself.

Tom snapped awake at his desk, looking around with startled eyes. He must have fallen asleep while working on his next brief. He got up and walked over to the window. Looking at sky over the Warp Zone should help him clear his head.

Blue clear sky shone through the smog usually over the city. The Zone was gone.

Tom rubbed his chin as he thought, wondering what had happened at the Dawn of Time.

- - -

"Hey, Troy," said Marcie Capri. "Phone call."

Tom nodded his thanks, as he picked up his own extension. He wondered what was wrong with him.

"Troy, here," said Tom, picking up a pen to take notes if he needed to.

"We're assembling," said Joe Higgins. "The Titans are getting everyone they can at their tower. A comlink has been hooked up for our system. I put the call out for everyone."

"I'm on my way," said Tom, hanging up the phone. He grabbed his coat and left the office.

Maybe someone knows what is going on, he thought as he headed for the emergency stairwell.

As he transformed, he wondered how did I know who the Titans were?

The Fly took to the air, heading for Fort Edwards with breakneck speed. New York was at once familiar and strange. Only one explanation fitted the facts. The five earths had been joined together with bits and pieces of what was before.

It was interesting, but Tom had a feeling that more was going on than he knew at the moment. Maybe this war council was a session on how to fix this problem and give them all their earths back if it was remotely possible.

- - -

Tom listened quietly to the speech given by Harbinger, letting it confirm his guess. The five Earths had been combined into one. The Crusaders and the Sentinels existed side by side with the Justice League and Teen Titans, while Joe had fought with the All Star Squadron and the Freedom Fighters.

The double memory was hard to keep straight, Tom thought. When had he fought side by side with the Blackhawks?

Who were the Blackhawks?

The sky blackened in the middle of the day. The stars winked out on the other side of the world. Reports began streaming in, filling up the monitor board.

Tom knew the feeds were going to Titans Tower, the JLA's Detroit headquarters, the Sentinels, the WEB, and other groups around the world.

What was going on?

The earth slid into the antimatter universe as the face of the Anti-Monitor appeared in the suddenly burning sky.

"Welcome to the Antimatter universe," the giant image said, broadcasting to the whole world at once. "Welcome to your doom!"

"Since my birth 10 billion years ago," the image continued. "I have not known defeat.

"A thousand universes before yours perished without resistance, but you refused to die. I was to enlarge my antimatter universe, to have it replace all other universes.

"A thousand meaningless victories because you resisted my efforts to destroy you. One universe protected by one small and terribly insignificant little world.

"A token force of humans succeeds where untold powers had failed.

"I offer you my congratulations. I acknowledge your persistence. Your will to live is astonishing. But it ultimately changes nothing.

"Your world must die.

"As your Supergirl died, as your Flash died, as so many others who tried to stop me have died.

"And with its death, there will be none who can prevent my universe from replacing your own.

"My warriors stain your world with blood. They are everywhere, and they cannot be stopped. Hear the death knell, humans. It is the last sound you shall ever hear!"

"Let's move," Joe Higgins said, springing from his chair. "We have to get into the city."
The assembled Crusaders rushed to the jet they used to get around the country. The Shield and the Black Hood got in the pilots' seats and launched the jet into the pitch black sky. The lights under the cockpit burned the darkness as the group flew into battle.

The darkness shattered into humanoid shapes with a burning touch. They smashed the engines of the jet, burnt their way through the metallic skin. The Fly blasted at the shapes with his buzz gun as the wounded plane headed for the ground.

Kim's alone, Tom thought as the Shield and the Black Hood pulled the nose up enough for an emergency landing.

The Fly burst the warped door open with his insect strength. He took to the air, buzz gun firing at the attacking shadow demons. The others bailed out, attacking with their own means.

"The relief effort is that way," the Shield said, pointing. "The Titans, Infinity Inc., and the Freedom Fighters are all ready on the job."

"What are we standing around here for?," asked the Hood, guns drawn.

The Fly led the way for his four comrades.

Hang on, Kim, he thought. I'm coming.

- - -

The Crusaders made their way into Manhattan. Tom provided air cover as the heroes fought to keep the civilians from harm. The Black Hood had salvaged his motorcycle and he and the Web were had rode in. They split up to direct the stream of refugees away from the battle.

"Hey, handsome," said the bright voice of Fly-girl. "What's a nice looking guy like you doing in a mess like this?"

"I'm glad to see you," Tom said. "I was worried about you."

"I'm okay," said Kim, serious again. "Let's see if we can help out."

The Flies dropped down over the evacuation. Their buzz gun blasts mixed in with the sound of the Human Bomb using his fists, and the other flying heroes using whatever they had to try to clear the sky over New York.

"There's Mary Marvel," Kim said, pointing. "I wonder what's going on down there."

"It looks like there's trouble down in the street," said Tom, flying lower, blasting at any shadow demon in his way. He saw a crystal shell under attack as he dropped down. When the smoke cleared, the crystal shell had been shattered.

"It looks like Kole, the Huntress and the older Robin were hurt," said Tom, as he circled for another pass.

Kim nodded as she tried to keep the other demons from attacking while help tried to attend to the wounded. The city had suffered during this attack, but it wouldn't be destroyed. It would survive, and so would the human race.

- - -

Tom and Kim circled over the scene as the shadow demons prepared to overwhelm them with their burning touch. Their buzz guns erupted again and again in an attempt to clear the strange sky.

Green tendrils reached from over the horizon, grasping the darkness in its clutches. The demons howled under the confinement as the will of the original Green Lantern and the wizards of Earth forced them off the planet.

The Fly landed, relieved that this part of the battle was over at the moment.

He took a deep breath, wondering how many had been lost to the Anti-Monitor's forces this time.

He wondered how the space force was doing briefly before turning to help the injured as well as he could. At least he knew some rudimentary first aid to help with the wounded.

That was how he could help. He glimpsed Kim helping people from buildings that had been wrecked by the shadows. Batgirl and the Doll Man were still directing traffic.

They had given it their all.

Would it be enough?

- - -

Tom and Kim took a moment to catch their breath as the fighting on Earth seemed to be over. It was all up to the space force now. A giant silhouette appeared in the sky. Normal stars peered down on the embattled heroes. Then the Earth slid back into its place.

Tom tried to smile, but somehow he couldn't looking at the devastation around him.

"Looks like we won, Fly," said Kim.

"I know," said Tom. "I wonder what the cost was."

The people, relieved to be alive, broke in celebration on the streets. The dead and wounded would be sorted and helped, but relief and joy made the air taste sweeter, the light clearer, than it had since the whole thing started.

Tom took to the air, happy to be alive. As he looked out over the harbor, Titans Tower faded from his reality as well as the memories from the rewritten timeline. Ghosts faded in front of his eyes as the five earths separated once more. He looked around, seeing the heroes from the other Earths fade out of existence.

That was the way things should be.

Kim joined him in the air, laughing. They raced out over the ocean and back at high speed. One moment of happiness to balance out the work ahead.

The Flies joined the relief effort as heroes from around the world reported an all clear. Lives had been lost, but many more had been saved.

The Crusaders and Sentinels worked until they were ready to drop. Finally they decided to return to base and get some rest so they could help the other relief efforts headed by FEMA and the military summoned in the field.

Colonel Abernathy stood at the entrance of the Crusader base. M.P.s stood at his back, blocking entrance to the headquarters.

"I want you to know that I'm leveling charges against your group for disobeying orders," Abernathy said. "You will turn yourself in to face a court martial."

"We're civilians, Abernathy," said Joe Higgins. "As for giving us orders, you won't have to do that any more. The Crusaders are disbanded."

September 1985

Tom stood at his window at work. Joe Higgins had vanished after his clash with Abernathy. The headquarters at Fort Edwards had been shut down by the Army. Tom had talked to John and Kip, but neither one had heard from Joe either.

That was unlike Joe.

At least, the city and the world had been saved.

Kim and he had talked to Lemuel Toadkin, and the wedding would be taking place at the end of the month. All of the invites had been sent as soon as the Postal Service had resumed after the battle with the Anti-Monitor.

Tom went back to his desk, looking at the case load on its top. His primary job was to deal with the hotel killings, and the clues were virtually nonexistent.

The thing that stuck in his mind was the single wound in the side of the neck. All the body innards were sucked through that small hole like dirt going up the hose of a vacuum.

Something pierced Tom's thoughts as he stared at the crime scene pictures. He looked around for an encyclopedia. Unfortunately the DA's office only had law books, schedules, and a thesaurus.

Tom grabbed his jacket and coat and headed for the door. The library would know for sure if what he thought as a possibility, was the truth. If it was, it could narrow the field of his search.

- - -

Tom made his way to the library, ignoring the lions that guarded the front of the building. He went to the nonfiction shelves, looking through a section of books on insects and arachnids. He flipped through a book on spiders as he scanned the pages quietly.

His eyes concentrated on the feeding method of spiders. He smiled as he read the arachnids liquefied the insides of their prey, and sucked them dry.

It was similar to the killing method being used to kill the tourists. It was an almost exact match.

Tom put the book back on the shelf. A phone call to Greevy would point the investigation at insect driven felons. That would narrow the field considerably.

The only other clue they had was the narrow window the victims were attacked.

A witness would help some but the M.O. seemed to be a fairer chance to catch the guy.

Tom caught a cab to Manhattan South to talk with the two detectives if they were at their desks. If not, he would talk to their lieutenant and pass the clue down through that.

Tom watched the city go by, rubbing his face. He still had to get through the rest of the day, and have dinner with Kim.

Then he could try to get a hold of Joe.

- - -

Tom got through the day, brain racing at the sudden break. If the Crusaders HQ was still operational, he could have it search the networks the government had begun to install to keep track of repeat offenders. Now he would have to apply through channels.

Red tape and nonexistent cooperation with the Feds were the order of the day.

Tom got home, thinking about his problem. How could he cut through that mess?

Kim was still on the set when he checked the answering machine. She had left a message to say she was shopping after work.

The phone began to ring as he put his case and coat aside. He wondered who it could be as he picked up the receiver.

"Troy," he said quietly. He smiled when he heard the voice on the other end. "Hello, Joe." A pause. "Kim's out shopping for a nursery. It's going to be a boy. We're thinking about naming him Jason Lancelot." Another pause. "I guess I could help you out. Let me leave Kim a note." Another pause. "Mercy General? I'll be there as quickly as I can."

Troy hung up the phone. It must be important for Joe Higgins to call for help. Thomas looked at the ring he had worn for so many years. He had promised to be a hero, and he would keep his word.

Troy wrote a short message for his beautiful wife.

"I wish... I wish... I wish I were the Fly," Troy chanted. A cloud surrounded him. When it cleared, a figure in green and gold stood in Thomas Troy's place.

The Fly took to the air once more.

The flight to the hospital was short as the Fly descended towards the building's roof. He landed quietly, wondering who else would have been summoned, and why the hospital?

The Fly dropped to a darkened area, changing back to Tom Troy as he walked towards the main entrance of the hospital. He hurried across the lobby, stepping into an elevator. He stepped out on the floor he had been given and walked down to the sun room.

Supposedly Joe would meet him there.

Two others were already waiting in the open area. John Raymond and Kip Burland were idly discussing things as they waited on the others to arrive.

"Hey, Tommy," said Kip. "What's all the excitement in the harbor?"

"I don't know," said Tom, struck by Kip's odd behavior. He had been like that since his Uncle Matt had died. He hoped it wasn't some kind of deeper issue involved. "Did something happen?"

"It looks like Peacemaker and a private detective busted a bunch of arms smugglers as I was coming to the hospital," said Raymond. "It was all over the radio."

"Smythe will probably let me know what I am going to have as evidence when I get in tomorrow," said Tom. "Why did Joe pick here for the meet?"

"I picked," said Raymond. "Darkling is back."

"She's dead, John," said Tom. "We saw the Brain Emperor wipe her mind out and throw her body across some dimensional barrier."

"No joke, Tom," said Kip. "She's laying in a room down the hall."

"How did this happen?," asked Tom.

"She fell out of thin air at my apartment," said Raymond. "I brought her here, and asked Steve Dickering to examine her. I have no explanation why, or how, but her prints are the same. So far she is comatose."

"Any chance for a recovery?," Tom asked.

"Not yet," said John.

Tom didn't have time to worry about that development. He had to get his things together and get to court. He still had a job to do.

It would be the first time he was before the bench since his disbarment.

It felt good to get back on the job.

Being the Fly was great, but it didn't pay the bills.

Tom spent the next few hours dueling with other attorneys for the lives of their clients. Sometimes he won his point, sometimes not. He found it was just like riding a bicycle. Once he got started, his skills returned to him quickly.

He returned to the DA's office after the afternoon adjournment. He still had to review cases that were coming up for trial.

The police arrested people faster than he could put them in jail.

There was still no word on the Blue Beetle as he turned a desk radio on to listen to the news. The world was following it because of the Beetle's standing in the hero community.

He wondered what had happened.


June, 85-
The next day found the prosecutors standing in a borrowed conference room. Bryan Smythe stood at the head of the table, regarding them with thin, brown eyes. This was a morning ritual with him to check on the progress of cases being pursued by his office.

Tom was glad to give his report and get to work. All of the cases that he had picked up were no brainers so far. All he had to do was present the evidence gathered by the police, without any side distractions.

Some cases did occasionally become twisted as the investigation continued, but Tom had been lucky so far.

"Everybody can go, but Troy," Smythe said.

The men and women filed out, caseloads in hands. Tom waited, wondering what was up.

"There was a murder last night at the Hilton, Tom," said the DA. "I want you to look into whatever the NYPD come up with."

"I don't understand," said Tom. "Do they have a suspect that should be indicted?"

"Not yet," said Smythe

June, 85-
Tom went over to the Hilton, after locking his active cases in his desk. It was a minute flight as the Fly. He landed in an alley, changed back, and walked up to the glass front doors. He had to wave his identification to the patrol men guarding the entrance. He paused to get the room number from the man.

Tom took the elevator up to the floor, aware of the blue uniforms that seemed to be questioning everybody in sight. He got off in a cloud of blue as the cab came to a stop.

"Troy, how's it going?," said a wide man in a cheap suit. The badge on his collar glinted in the sharp lighting.

"You're the lead detective, Max?," Tom asked.

The round head nodded.

"It's a mess," said the big detective. "Usually we don't see an ADA until we have something to go on."

"Smythe asked me to come down and look things over," Tom said. "How bad is it?"

Max turned and led down the hall. He paused at the door, hands in the pockets of his coat. Technicians from the Crime Scene Unit were still busy going over the scene. A tape outline showed where the body had lain, but the room seemed absolutely clean to Tom.

"I thought you said it was a mess," Tom said.

June, 85-
Tom and Max waited for the technicians to clear out before they started to talk about the case. The lead specialist reported some kind of fluid around the spot where the body had fell. He would have the lab run it and give Max a report.

The detective nodded at the news.

"What's going on, Max?," Tom asked. "I'm impressed enough that this is a strange case, and a press nightmare."

"Mr. David Warshawski, insurance salesman, checked in last night about ten. He was alone as far as we know. We are still checking. At eleven, lady down the hall reported a scream to the front desk. The desk sent someone up to check. The employee found the body, called us."

"Let me guess," said Tom. "Mr. Warshawski was not stabbed, shot, or beaten."

"He was sucked dry," Max said.

"You're kidding me," Tom said.

"No, I'm not," said the detective. "When the security guard came in, he found the body was flat as a sheet of paper. One wound on his neck."

"I can see what could happen if the press got a grip on this," said Tom. "Are you sure it was a real body?"

"The ME says it is," said Max.

June, 85-
Tom checked with the Coroner's Office, as he left Max searching for witnesses. The Warshawski autopsy was scheduled after several others that had died in the night. Tom checked his court schedule to make sure there wasn't a conflict.

He was interested in the results of the examination.

In the world of superhuman violence, a strange murder was not unheard of.

Still he had not heard of anything like this.

He worked on the cases he had before he had

Post Sat Jun 24, 2006 4:46 pm
Anonymous

great ,!-- s:) -->:),!-- s:) --> :)


Return to Mighty MLJ: Fan Fiction