LinkExchange FORWARD

DC Futures Fan Fiction focuses on the future of the DC Universe. Characters in DCF are often the descendents and proteges of the modern-day DC characters, but they are original creations of the authors.

(Continuity Note: The events in this story occur during the months covered in Suicide Squad:DCF #13.)

NorAm: Boston

Dr. Heather Morgan walked into her office on the third floor of what looked like a small brownstone building whistling a jaunty melody from some romance movie she'd seen the night before while eating a pint of no-cal synthetic ice cream. She asked her secretary, Moesha, if she had any mail come in.
"Just some package the medical supply company dropped off," the secretary replied with complete apathy. Her attentions were far more directed towards the game of 3-D Septris in front of her than on the job. Why shouldn't they be? The lab was shutting down soon; she was just waiting until the next assignment.
Dr. Morgan walked into her office, too cheery from the previous night's adventures to chastise the secretary. Senator Archibald Alger was as wonderful a man as he was powerful. Better than many politicians, she suspected. The divorce papers were being drawn up this morning, putting an end to all the sneaking around. Soon, they could be together.
Most people would have figured Dr. Morgan for a gold-digger. It wasn't quite that simple, really. She and Archibald (or Archie, as she called him much to his dismay) had known each other in college, and their careers had been built upon each other's along the way. He had helped her land a job with a firm financed by a fraternity brother of his; she had helped him make a good deal for the UN, and he'd been promoted because of it.
The two of them should have been married all along. If not for that silly stint in graduate school where he'd knocked up that blonde bimbo and then married her, they would have been. His son had died two years ago. She'd been there to comfort him when the little wifey had her stay in the institution. Friendship had turned back into what it should have been all along.
And the divorce made it perfect. They'd be together all along.
At least Dr. Morgan was in a good mood when the bomb went off, decimating a three-block area on the waterfront. Many people die in a much less blissful state.

DCF Presents:
Suicide Squad:DCF #14
Hourman in "The Bodyguard"
(A DCF Goes to the Movies Participant)
Written and edited by Jason Tippitt
Co-Edited by Schuyler Bush and Wayne Ligon

NorAm: Justice Island

Justice League operative Jonathan Bolander stood at attention waiting. Always waiting, it seemed. And because he was waiting, he was missing out on that exciting paperwork the bosses required every agent to mark off on each day. And if he didn't get something done, they'd be understanding, of course, and recognize that because he was here waiting for his next assignment (and waiting and waiting and waiting…), he might have missed a few things, right?
They'd add this to the list of things that kept him in the doghouse of late. Letting Captain Atom get away. The death of Dr. Destiny (not his fault, but under his command). Albatross getting away. Oh, and slugging Alucard Holmes -- always a good way to ensure a permanent residency on the shit list.
What kind of candy-ass assignment was this going to be? Proctological exams at the Zoo? A command position in Blüdhaven? Hunting for insurgents in Argentina, maybe? The only z-level thing he knew wasn't in the offing was a transfer to Jerusalem duty. Bolander was a Catholic, even if he wasn't a very good one, and no Jews, Christians or Muslims were allowed there in the name of "impartiality."
What, then?
He was damned cold, too. The climate control in this office was always a bit cold for his tastes to begin with, and he was at the moment shirtless because--
The door hissed open behind him, cutting off his inner reverie. He heard the heavy footsteps of Holmes' dress shoes on the tile floor.
Holmes stepped in front of him. "The wings are a new look, Hourman."
Bolander replied, "Happens from time to time with the Miraclo, sir. Sometimes a 'temporary' mutation isn't."
"How long have you had this problem?" Holmes asked, a hint of amusement in his tone.
"One week, sir. It's happened before. They atrophied away within a couple of days' time then. Signs are that they'll be gone within a day or two at most."
Alucard nodded. "Good. Inconspicuous, they are not."

NorAm: Baltimore
Two Days Later

Hourman pushed a button by the door of the Justice League safe house. The automatic lock of the outer door opened, and he walked inside. The door shut behind him, locking into place. He took off his sunglasses and stared into the retinal scanner. The inner door opened before him. If he'd failed the test, he'd be breathing gas right now.
He walked down the hallway and found himself in a large living area. A genuine fireplace stood in the middle of the wall, covered up for the summer. Lying asleep on the couch was a stunning woman. She looked about 5'6", with curly red hair and a slight trace of freckles against her pale, milky skin. As she breathed, her right hand rose and fell with the rhythm of her stomach. She'd fallen asleep with a book on her chest. He looked at the spine. Confessions by St. Augustine. The Leaguer smiled as he gently lifted the book away from her and moved a quilt from the back of the couch to cover her slender body.
She moved, causing her shirt to ride up just a little bit, giving him a flash of a well-toned stomach. This might be a babysitting job, but she was a lot prettier than most people he'd been stuck protecting.
He walked out of the room and back towards the kitchen area. "Anyone home?" he asked quietly.
A holographic image of Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat popped into the air in front of him. "Good evening, Agent Bolander," it said in cheerful tones.
"Call me Hourman," he hissed, opening the refrigerator and grabbing a Soder cola. "The client doesn't know my identity, and we need to keep it that way."
"Duly noted," it said, morphing into a visage of The Grinch. Bolander felt his stomach growling. What was it with computer geeks these days, thinking every security computer had to have a gimmick? "Good evening, Hourman. You and Dr. Morgan are the only biological entities on the grounds. Excluding rodents, a cat named Lorax, and some stray bacter--"
"I get the point," Hourman said.
"Touchy, aren't we?" The Grinch asked.
"Lemme guess, your name's Seuss," Hourman offered.
"At your service."
"Who's there?" the woman asked from the next room.
Hourman walked into the living room with two Soders in hand. The woman was now sitting up on the couch, and Hourman pulled up a wooden chair and placed in front of her. He offered her a drink, and she silently accepted it.
"I'm Hourman," he said, offering his hand. "Mr. Holmes sent me to look after you, Dr…?"
"You know who I am," she said, shaking his hand. "Dr. Marie Morgan. And, please, it's Marie, if we're going to be spending so much quality time together."
Hourman smiled. "Okay, Dr. -- Miss -- Marie, do you have any idea why your sister was killed? Who might have done it? Why they're after you?"
Marie sighed. "I've already told the Homicide unit this story about twelve times."
"There are stories you tell the police, and then there are stories one UN employee tells another," Bolander said. "I believe you're probably right that Patriot or ROBYN were involved." (* ROBYN: Rebellion of Old Boston, Youth Network, as seen in Robin: DCF -- Tippitt)
"The thing is," Bolander continued, leaning forward, "saying 'the rebels' did it doesn't solve the question of which rebels and, more importantly, why."
"They're all anarchists," Marie said. "My sister is… was… dating a senator. A married senator. That's another possible motive, but I think it was probably just them seeking to undermine the UN wherever and however they can."
"Bullshit!" Bolander said, laughing. "Your sister got blown up. You've received threats of the same. And on my way over here, I got a phone call, Marie. Are you familiar with a Dr. Lenny Ball?"
"Oh, no…"
"Oh, yes," the Justice Leaguer said, standing up, starting to pace. "They found him in a sealed barrel at the bottom of the Boston Harbor this morning. Shot three times in the stomach, welded into a barrel, and thrown into the water. You and your sister and Lenny were working in the same division. Two out of the four are dead, and I don't believe in coincidences."
Marie looked up at him, green eyes glistening. "Hourman, we worked in microbial sciences, looking for antidotes to biological weapons. Maybe the murderers were tied to something we'd been researching?"
"Now we're getting somewhere," Bolander said. "I've got some people digging around in Boston. This sounds like something beyond ROBYN's scope. I can tell them to focus on the Patriots there. Thank you." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm gonna go make a call. If you need anything, just ask me."
"Thank you." Marie paused, then asked, "You said 'two out of four.' Is Dr. Simonson okay, then?"
"There's a team up there with him," Hourman replied.
"He gets a team, and I get one person?"
"There are more rebels there," Hourman said. "Besides," he added with a smile, "I'm just that good."
Marie rolled her eyes, and Hourman walked up to the communications room and locked himself inside. "Seuss, I want you to patch me through to Justice League designate Killer Frost."
The holographic image of Horton popped up. "Yes, sir!"
Hourman groaned.

Two days later:

"Couldn't we bring the lab to you?" Hourman asked, his back turned to Dr. Morgan as she tried on the clothing he'd had shipped in for her. He'd already done a chemical analysis to make sure that there were no contact toxins present on the material, but just in case, he was standing by with a fire extinguisher and a med kit. Lorax, the house cat, was rubbing his ears against the Leaguer's pants leg, and Bolander thanked God -- not for the first time on this assignment -- for advances in antihistamines.
Marie laughed. "Sure, ship in biohazard containment gear, a few safety suits, the specimens and the rats. Not to mention sticking out like a sore thumb, we have to be able to live here until your people catch these freaks," she said. "How do I look?"
Bolander turned to see her wearing a short black dress with no sleeves, and a black wig crowning her head. Dark stockings covered her legs, and a padded bra changed her profile considerably. "You look like my worst enemy," he said with no humor at all. "But yourself, no, you don't look like yourself at all."
"Your worst enemy?" she asked with a hint of a smile. "You mean I get my own real-life superhero complete with a rogue's gallery?"
"Something like that," he said glumly.
Marie walked forward, squeezed his hand. "I assume this woman killed Velocity?"
"By accident," he said. "One of her people did it, actually, but I don't hate the bitch any less for it."
"Does this 'bitch' have a name?"
"She's got a ton of 'em," he said. "Let's go."
The Leaguer and the scientist walked out to his hover. "Wouldn't it be easier to beam me over?" she asked as he got into the car. "I know the League has those transport tubes."
"Sure, just transport one over, set up a satellite receiver on the rooftop, that wouldn't be conspicuous," he said with a grin.
"Since 2075," he replied.
"Ooh, an older man."
Bolander started the car, then looked over at the scientist. "I'm gonna keep you safe, Doc. If it comes down to it, I'm here to catch a bullet for you, and hopefully throw it right back at 'em."

From the Journal of Justice League Agent Jonathan Bolander:

Marie. The assignment's named Marie. That just figures. I lose Anne-Marie, now I'm guarding a Marie, both redheads.
Both smart, both Catholic, both witty.
Both beautiful.
Sometimes I get a feeling God hates me.

A Week Later

"Frosty, any progress up there in Boston town?"
"This is about like looking for a noble with forks in the family tree," the Brit replied over the phone. "What're you doing, cooking?"
Bolander nodded at the holophone. "We can't trust delivery, so all the cooking gets done here. There's about two dozen small grocery stores near here, and I hit 'em randomly, so there's little chance of contamination."
Killer Frost smirked. "So why are you in the kitchen, boss? You're not trying to woo the good doctor, are ya?"
Hourman shot him a dirty look, then cut his eyes around to make sure he was alone. "Look, Frosty, if you must know, the doctor's cooking skills are limited to the petri dish. Her meatloaf could be considered biological warfare."
The Brit let out a bark of laughter. "Maybe she'd get along great with Quicken, he who gets impatient and undercooks everything."
"If you let a speedster near the kitchen, you deserve whatever happens to you," Hourman said with a grin.


"I'm bored. I've had it. I'm going out." And just like that, Marie was off the sofa and heading toward her bedroom.
"Now, wait a second…" Hourman jumped up out of his chair and took off after her. He got to her doorway in time to get hit in the face with a flying sweater. He turned his back as the pants started to come down. "Marie, you can't just go out!"
"I'm barely getting work done," she said. "If I spend all my time sitting around and waiting to die, I might as well be dead already!"
Bolander pulled the phone out of his pocket and dialed a number.
"Who are you calling?" Marie asked.
Bolander turned to answer her, saw she was naked from the waist up, and spun back around. Damn, he didn't need to see that. Well, he did, but that was the problem. He didn't need to need it so much.
"Noel Pryce," he said into the phone. He put a hand over the mouthpiece. "I'm calling a League friend I have here in town. If we're going out, I need another set of eyes." The fact his eyes were having a hard time staying off her couldn't possibly be a factor.
"Noel speaking," came the voice.
"Noel, this is Hourman."
"'Hourman?'" Noel asked sarcastically. "Come on, Jonath -- ah, got someone there who doesn't know the name. Gotcha. What can I do ya for?"
"I'm watching this feisty scientist--"
"I heard that!"
"--and she wants to leave the safe house. I don't blame her, since it's been about a month. I could stand to stretch my legs, too. And things seem to have died down with the people after her…"
"Say no more," Noel said. "Where should I meet you?"
Bolander gave him the address and hung up. "My man Noel should be here in about ten minutes," he said.
"How do I look?" Marie asked.
The Leaguer turned to look at her. She wore a skintight bodysuit made from a Kevlar weave. The material had the look of shimmering silver-tinted lycra. Every curve showed as well as if she were naked.
"You look… wow."
The scientist smiled. "Thank you. It's not my usual thing, but that's the point." She walked up to Bolander, stopping about a foot from him. "Now, you…" Marie reached a hand up, touched his jacket. "Lose the suit. Now."
"Um… Noel's gonna be here in about ten minutes…"
Marie laughed. "I didn't mean it like that, Agent Dangerman. I don't sleep with someone before the first date. This Keravin suit's nice and all, but you look like a bodyguard or spy or something. We gotta look like two normal people."
"Marie, you look a lot better than any 'normal person.'"
She smiled, her dimples standing out. "Thank you," she said, giving him a peck on the cheek. "Go change."


"Noel Pryce," the Leaguer said. The cat was rubbing against his leg, purring.
"How come I get to hear his name and not yours?" Marie asked Hourman.
"I'm in the League, but I'm more like a Secret Service guy," Noel said. "I wear a suit, not tights. I do security work, mainly."
"Do you have powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men?" Marie asked.
"My wife thinks so," Noel replied with a grin. "I missed your name."
"Marie Mor--"
Hourman interrupted her, "Well, Marie, you've met Noel. I know both of you. Let's go, shall we?"
Noel nodded, holding the door open for the other two.
"Why'd you cut me off?" Marie whispered when she and Bolander were a few steps away.
"Bad habit to give your full name," he replied. "I trust Noel. But what if you meet someone we don't know at this club?"
Marie batted her eyes. "What makes you think I'd want to be near anyone but you?"


"A karaoke bar. You chose a karaoke bar. Sweet Mother of God," Noel lamented.
"The lady's pick," Bolander said with a shrug. The two agents sat at the bar drinking bottled water as Marie slow-danced with a tall, skinny man wearing a purple hat, commonly referred to as a Wilson. Some bland pop song from the mid-21st was playing through the badly mixed sound system. A thin, pale woman sang on the stage with all the cheerful demeanor of a vulture.
"So Marie's a scientist?" Noel asked. "What field?"
"Medical research," Bolander replied. "Patriot killed two of her colleagues. I figure they were getting close to curing something the rebels have in development. Marie's with me, another is in a safe house up the coast."
"How's Killer Frost working out?"
"Aw, man, Frosty's great. It's nice to have an idealist around."
"Tell him I said hello."
"Sure will. We'll probably talk tomorrow."
Marie walked back over, hugging Bolander. "You aren't jealous, are you, honeybunny?"
"No," he answered with a grin.
"Will you sing me a song?" she asked.
Bolander looked to Noel for help, and found none. The other Leaguer just smiled and said, "Go for it, honeybunny."
"For the record, I hate you both."
Marie pulled him over the screen listing the songs and forced him to pick out one. She put "Thyme" as his last name.


Bolander stared out at Marie, who was cheering at him as he took the stage. The screen lit up, and he groaned at her selection. "Superstar," the screen read, "The Carpenters." Bolander took a deep breath and started singing in his baritone voice.

"Long ago and so far away
I fell in love with you before the second show
Your guitar sounded so sweet and clear
But you're not really there
It's just the radio…"

Marie was settled down, her eyes closed, nodding her head to the beat of the music. Noel shook his head and ordered another bottle of water. A few couples made out at their seats. And Bolander just sang the song, feeling alone in the middle of all this passion and camaraderie.


Marie was midway through singing her third Chicago song when the grenade hit the stage. While Bolander couldn't agree more with the sentiments, he had a feeling this wasn't a statement about artistic integrity. The big man leapt forward from him position in front of the stage, landing on top of the grenade just before it blew.
"Oh, my God!" Marie shouted, stumbling back, twisting her ankle, as people fled the room. She fell to the floor, landing hard on her butt. Noel was beside her on the stage with blaster drawn, looking around for the attacker.
Bolander stood up, his shirt ripped to pieces, chest hairs singed from the blast. "I think it's time to call this a night," he said bitterly.
Noel nodded his head, and everything in the area froze in place as time slowed down around them. "Let's get to the hover. I've got a whole block stopped."
Bolander picked Marie up in his arms. Noel couldn't cover that large an area for more than a minute without risking his life. And this wasn't even his assignment. So he'd just carry Marie, rather than let her limp slow them.
She protested, but he ignored it, carrying her through the statues inside the room. He didn't even chastise her when she lifted the Wilson off her dance partner from earlier in the evening and placed it on top of his head.

From the Journal of Justice League Agent Jonathan Bolander:

It's in the human psyche to look for patterns where none really exist. That's why we see a man on the moon, or on the front of our toaster, or on a three-pronged electrical outlet. That's why we draw parallels between things.
Pattern thinking helps us categorize things.
Anne-Marie, Marie.
Redhead, redhead.
Lapsed Catholic, practicing Catholic.
Looked good in spandex, looks good in spandex.
Heavy metal, saccharine pop songs that should have died long ago.
First date: we get attacked by Patriots, Excursion out of safe house: we get attacked by Patriots.
The first one died under my watch. The second will not so long as I draw breath.


"Thanks, Noel. You are, literally, a life saver."
"No problem, J.B.," the other Leaguer said. "Is she going to be alright?"
"Yeah. The panic hit her after we got here, but I think petting the cat is helping."
"They actually let the computer name the cat Lorax?"
Seuss' holographic face popped up in the air. "I take offense to that. This building is vacant about ten months out of the year, on average. Computers get lonely, too."
Bolander grinned, and Noel just shook his head. "Tell her goodnight," Noel said, then was gone.
"What're you looking at?" Hourman asked the computer's face. It blinked out of sight.
He walked into the living room. "Can I fix you a drink?" he asked the scientist.
"Amaretto sours," she said.
Hourman nodded, thankful she didn't ask for a 7&7. That was Anne-Marie's favorite. He walked into the kitchen and stopped, his hands resting on the counter. He hadn't even taken time to put on another shirt.
"Hey, Marie, you mind if I change into something a little less Doc Savage?" he asked.
"Go for it," she said.
He walked into his bedroom and opened the closet door. He threw the tattered remnants of the shirt he'd been wearing into the trash can. He stared into the closet at the clothing hanging there. Mostly Keravin suits. Two pairs of jeans and a couple of polos. He didn't even have a uniform along for this hunt.
"You gonna fix that drink?" he heard behind him.
"Sure, in a minute," he said. "I'm sorry; I just got lost in thought."
"I heard Noel call you Jonathan. Can I call you Jonny? I like that better."
"Yeah, that works," he said, reaching in for a shirt. A hand fell across his arm, and he turned to see Marie standing there. The bodysuit was nowhere in sight.
"Sorry, I got tired of waiting for you to turn around," she said, and then she was kissing him.


"Do you always sleep with the people you're protecting?" Marie asked. She lay holding the Leaguer from behind.
"No, you're an exception to the rule," he said, kissing her hand.
"They're still after me," she said quietly. "I really thought it would be safe to go out there."
Bolander rolled over to face her and put his arms around her. "Marie, that's the thing. They could be anywhere, at any time. That's why I didn't want you to go out. At least you learned that without dying for it."
"Did it hurt when that grenade blew?" she asked. "I thought you were dead for sure."
"Have you ever been kicked in the stomach by, oh, a mule?" he asked. "It felt about like that. It's hard to hurt me, though. See, I take this drug called Miraclo that gives me powers for an hour."
"What kind of powers?"
He shrugged. "It's random. Sometimes I'm a speedster. Sometimes I set stuff on fire. Other times, I can read minds. But it only works for me because of changes in my body that make this possible. And as a side-effect there are other things, I guess that help make my body capable of surviving the changes… I can press about ten tons, bullets and shrapnel bounce off me, stuff like that."
Marie looked at him with concern.
"This all lasts an hour, then just changes back? Isn't that rough on your system?"
He nodded. "Yeah. They put me on Ambrosia to help extend my longevity, otherwise I'd probably have been burned out within the first three, four years of using my powers heavily. I was in Patriot before I joined the League, but I rarely used the Miraclo then."
He sighed. "And it's not always as easy as just 'changing back.' A couple of times I've grown wings. They didn't pop up as soon as I took the pill, and I nearly got my ass killed while I wondered why I didn't have powers showing up. It took a couple of days for them to grow out -- you wouldn't believe the amount of food you have to ingest while that happens -- and then a few days for them to wither. The first time, I had them for three days. The second time, a week."
"That would suggest it's trying to be permanent," she said.
"There's already been one permanent change," he said. "Besides the initial strength and resilience, I mean." She looked at him, waiting for him to say it. "Telepathy doesn't work on me any more. No more deep-cover stuff; I have to be able to check in by phone or computer."
"I dunno, we seem to be undercover right now," Marie said, kissing him.
"Yeah, that we do," he answered, kissing her again.
Marie pulled back, looking at him. "So, the question is, what's going to happen to you?"
"Always thinking like a doctor, eh?" She nodded. "I guess I'll either die in battle or one day I'll take the Miraclo and draw a fatal mutation out of the deck. I've never seen myself as an old man dying in his sleep surrounded by loved ones."
"And that makes you happy?"
"I accept it," he said. "Justice demands sacrifices." He pulled Marie over on top of him. "You make me happy."
"I think I know why you don't want to leave the house," Marie said with a teasing grin. "Are you sure this isn't why they call you Hourman?"


Two days later, the phone rang. Killer Frost had called the day before, so this had to be news of some kind.
"Hello?" Bolander asked, taking it on audio alone. Marie was in the shower, and he wasn't out of bed yet.
"Hourman, why you got the bloody video turned off?"
"I'm indisposed," Hourman replied. "I thought we were supposed to talk tomorrow?"
"Things are taken care of," Frosty replied. "We found the Patriots behind the bombings last night."
"Were they there in Boston?"
"No, man, further up the coast. If you had your video on, you'd see we're in lovely Bangor. Buncha freaky bastards named themselves after Stephen King villains."
"I'd heard talk of a Patriot named Cujo," Hourman said.
"Yeah, that lot. Killer clown named Pennywise, magician named Flagg… but I digress. We got the bastards. They copped to the bombings before Flagg cast some kinda suicide spell on the lot of 'em."
"Well, then, I'll tell Marie right away."
"Not gonna wait for her to get out of the shower first?" Frosty asked, teasing.
Hourman grinned. The UN had the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering network in the world. Unfortunately, it seemed most of its resources went to spreading gossip. "You talked to Noel, eh?"
"Let's just say word is after your heroic rescue and her sprained ankle, speculation is that much bed rest is afoot."
"Frosty, you're a wanker."
"Thank you, boss. From you, that's high praise."
Hourman shut down the connection and lay back in the bed for a moment, his smile toned down considerably. It was over, finally. Back to normal assignments. Was the thing with Marie doomed to follow? He hoped not.
He got up and walked into the bathroom, stepping into the shower.
"Here to scrub my back? I'm afraid I've already scrubbed it."
"What about your front?" he asked.
She turned to look at him, grinning. "Like my grandma always said, sex in the shower is good, clean fun."
"Your grandmother said that?"
"After the stroke, she said whatever came to her mind." She leaned against the wall, pulling Hourman to her. Suddenly the lights went out.
Hourman shut down the water and reached out into the dark for towels. He wrapped one around himself, handed the other to Marie. "Stay here." He ran into the bedroom, fumbling in the dark for his blaster. He walked back into the bathroom and handed the blaster to Marie. "Hold this. I'm going to shut the door. If anyone comes in, shoot."
"What if it's you?" she asked.
"If it's me, then I'll speak to you."
He kissed her wet hair and sprinted out. He threw on the jeans that were on the floor, popped a Miraclo tablet from the bottle in his pocket, and grabbed a flashlight, walking through the house. This was probably just a power outage, but it didn't hurt to check
Bolander felt himself slow down for the barest of moments, then his movement returned to normal. What the hell was going on?
He looked over to one side and saw the cat frozen in mid-air. Lorax was leaping at something, and just hung suspended there.
Hourman ran back towards the bedroom, shining the light. He saw Leon Pryce with his hands on a time-frozen Marie's throat, strangling her. An odd shaft of light hung in the air, a laser blast frozen in place by the stopped time.
Bolander wondered why he wasn't effected. All he could figure was that things were still moving, just very slowly. And that he was granted superhuman speed for this hour by the drug, putting him on even footing with Pryce.
"Pryce!" he screamed.
Leon turned to look at him. "Jonathan, she has to die. The other scientist doesn't know the things she knows. They're making a bacterial weapon, man…"
"Bullshit!" Hourman spat. "She's in medical research…"
"She and her sister were developing the next generation of ebola," Leon said. "Something so deadly you can wipe out a city of twenty million in under ten hours. Something so thorough that not even bones are left. Something with such a short life span that it's inhabitable within a day after the last person drops. The code name on this project is Vanish, because that's what happens to the victims."
Hourman charged forward, pulling Leon's hands free from Marie's throat. "I love her, man. I haven't loved anyone since Anne-Marie."
Leon looked at him angrily. "You used to be one of us. Has Justice really gotten that far up your ass, man? If she lives, the resistance is dead… along with anyone unfortunate enough to live within the same area code."
Bolander shoved Pryce backwards, impaling him on the shaft of high-energy photons that hung in the air. The laser fried the Patriot mole from the inside, and he fell to the floor dead. Time resumed its normal passage, and Marie slumped forward into Bolander's arms. The lights came back on, current restored to its normal speed.
"Jonny, you saved me," she gasped. "Dunno what happened…"
"Pryce was here, baby," Hourman said quietly. "He was a Patriot. You shot him, though. He's dead."
"I thought he was going to kill me," she said.
He smoothed her hair down, kissed her cheek.
"Yes, baby?"
"Are you working on something called Vanish?"
Marie's body tightened up. "He told you?"
"Yeah," he said. "Is that why Patriot was after you?"
She nodded. "Yeah. Why?"
With no more effort than shrugging his shoulders, Jonathan Bolander snapped Marie Morgan's neck. He let her body slump back into the bathtub, water still beaded on her skin, as he took his seat on the floor.

Hourman looked at the blaster lying by the shower, then at Pryce's body. It would play with Alucard; Marie shot at Pryce, Pryce broke Marie's neck, then he killed Pryce with the dangling laser blast right afterward. It was close enough to true to pass muster.
Bolander's stood up to call the base for a pickup. As he passed the mirror, he caught a look at himself in the mirror, obscured by steam. "Once a Patriot…" he quietly whispered.


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This DC Futures story is © 1999 by .