Too Many Long Boxes!

End of Summer

Villainy on Vacation

Tying Up Loose Ends

by Michael Rees

Within the gaudy bar, Scarecrow sat next to Poison Ivy, who was using her powers to make a single rose dance across the counter much to Harley Quinn's amusement. Mr Zsasz ignored them, carving his initials into a table while his blue shirt slowly aborbed the blood seeping from his infected wound.

They were the most wanted criminals in America, leaving a trail of destruction in the wake of their escape from Arkham several months ago. Alone they were dangerous, together in one room they were the equivalent of nuclear war - death was assured.

“What do we do now?” Ted Kord asked peering out from behind the door that led to the kitchen area.

“Don't ask me,” Michael Jon Carter replied adjusting the ill-fitting black wig he had been forced to wear. “You invited them.”

Ted gently closed the door and strode over to the shiny metal refrigerator to examine his reflection, ensuring his disguise was in place “Seemed like a good idea at the time. Capturing the escaped criminals is a sure fire way to get us some respect in the hero world. We might even get back into the JLA!”

“I thought you had given up the hero game,” Michael noticed with some amusement that the outline of Ted's girdle could been seen through his striped white shirt “Why do you want to be the Blue Beetle again?”

“Because I'm on a roll,” Ted put an arm round Michael's shoulder, much to the taller man's discomfort “We both managed to stop Scarface in Las Vegas, I single handedly fought Charaxes, and I recently got one over on Lex Luthor.”

“Firstly, Scarface is only a doll,” Michael counted his points out on his fingers “Secondly, you ran into Charaxes by accident, and thirdly, how long do you think it'll be before Lex finds a way to wriggle out of the deal he made with you?”

Ted gave a dismissive wave to Michael's objections “The time is right for Blue Beetle's and Booster Gold's return. Your experiences in setting up Planet Krypton meant you were ideally suited for designing a bar that would attract the criminal element like flies to a spiders web.”

Michael nodded in agreement “Planet Apokolips is one of my better designs. Shame all the supplies didn't arrive on time, but at least we're fully stocked with alcohol. I just can't help feeling that this is only going to end in tears. Or at the very least hospitalization.”

“You worry to much! Our disguises are perfect,” Ted gave a wide grin that caused his small moustache to come unstuck on one side and hang down.

“Are you sure about the names?” Michael glanced his name tag which read “Burt” and then at the name tag on Ted's shirt which read “Ward.”

“Service!” Yelled the Scarecrow from the bar “If I don't get some service soon you're going to be living your worst nightmare for the rest of your life.”

Michael shook his head “I already am. You better go and keep our guests happy while I get ready to spring our trap.”

As Ted entered, his moustache reaffixed, Harley was spinning around on her bar stool, a look of joy on her face. With some effort Ted managed to pull his gaze away from Harley's spandex covered body and pour Scarecrow a shot of whiskey.

“This is great, it's like a class reunion,” Harley clapped her hands together “The class of Arkham '00. Who would have thought we'd all meet up in a small bar in Baker City?”

“Wasn't the idea that we wouldn't team up?” Poison Ivy said idly, spreading moss along the underside of the bar “And as I remember you weren't invited on this little outing, Zsasz.”

The serial killer hissed at the plant-covered woman “I go where I please. If you've got a problem you can discuss it with my blade. I'd be only too happy to add you to my tally.”

“If you cut me I'd only bleed sap,” Poison Ivy gave a flirtatious smile “And that's a big if. I hear that a nobody called Resurrection Man in Crucible City caught you. Not something to crow about.”

The Scarecrow jumped at the mention of the word “crow” spilling his whiskey “Don't say that, I'm still suffering from that blasted toxin Supergirl threw on me. I've almost counteracted it, but crows still fill me with dread.”

Poison Ivy let out a loud laugh, a cloud of green spores escaping into the air “Afraid of your name sake? How ironic.”

His hands shaking, Scarecrow sipped his whiskey “What do they call being beaten by two teenagers? Oh, I remember, pathetic.”

“Let's face it, alone we still fail,” Harley Quinn dropped on to her bar stool, a sad expression on her white painted face “Tt's because we're villains that we never win.”

The other criminals nodded and sipped their recently poured drinks. Ted was just about to pour another Bloody Mary for Mr Zsasz when he noticed through the bar window a lumbering figure advancing on the establishment.

He put down the bottle and dashed out into the street waving his hands at the huge robotic suit “Stop! We've only just built this place, if you knock it down we won't get any insurance.”

The robotic suit came to a halt and gazed down at Ted's small figure. It was then Ted saw the words “Lex Corp” on the machine's chest and he remembered Booster's words. It looked like Luthor had come up with a way to gain revenge on Ted.

“Who are you to give me orders? I am Brainiac 13 and wish to go to the drinking establishment known as Apokoplis.” The futuristic criminal regarded the logo at the top of the building, displaying the planet ruled by Darkseid “This is the location. The advert on your time's crude Internet proclaimed this to be an excellent hiding place for super villains.”

Ted sighed, relieved that the robot wasn't after him. Then he looked at the size of the battle suit and compared it to the size of the bar's door; there was clear problem.

“You're to big, you'll never fit. If you try to enter you'll knock a huge hole in the wall,” Ted looked up and down the deserted and rundown street “What will the neighbors think?”

Brainiac 13 considered this for a moment and then spoke in his booming electronic voice “Discretion will enable my activities to go undetected. Very well, I shall reduce my size.”

With a mechanical whirr, the metal plates on Brainiac 13's armored suit slid back until it became a much more streamlined version of itself at half its normal size. It stepped forward and Ted darted out of the way, not wanting to test just how strong the battle suit was. He held his breath as Brainiac 13 managed to squeeze through the door, the paint on the frame scraping off onto the suit's arm.

Inside the bar, the collection of criminals stared at the new arrival. In return, its visor scanned them, taking in every detail. Michael popped his head out from the kitchen, saw the behemoth, and gave a short yelp before ducking back into the safety of the rear room.

“Well look who decided to crash the party,” Harley sipped on her Shirley Temple through a twisted green straw.

“This place is for Gotham villains only,” Scarecrow glared at Brainiac 13 from behind his cloth mask.

Ted slid past the huge metal figure “No, no, you're all welcome here. Can I get you anything to drink Brainiac?”

“13. Brainiac 13,” corrected the criminal “No, I do not require liquids. I will require access to a phone. I need to contact someone.”

Ted shrugged and placed a black phone on the counter and then backed his way into the kitchen.

“So what are you doing here?” Poison Ivy looked at Brainiac with distaste, she hated machines.

“I seek an alliance.” Brainiac 13 picked up the phone's headset.

Mr Zsasz stabbed his knife into his table “We were just talking about that, you piece of junk. Working together never works.”

“You forget, I am from your future. I have seen criminal alliances succeed,” Brainiac 13 intoned solemnly “In the year 2232 the Murder Legion wiped out twenty four solar systems, in 2450 the Genocide Federation tortured over twenty billion super beings for five hundred years and in 2966 the Cannibal Confederation devoured half the population of the universe. With my knowledge we will form a group which can not be defeated. But first, I must make an important phone call.”

In the kitchen, Ted found Michael donning his Booster Gold costume, the blue star stretching over his torso, his force field belt lay on a counter. However, he still wore the black wig, an occasional strand of blond hair escaping from under the nylon.

“You're not seriously considering tackling them are you?” Ted asked as Booster pulled on his yellow goggles.

“Nope, I'm going to run away and hope that my force field protects me long enough for me to escape.” Booster clicked the yellow belt into place, blending in with the colour on the mid section of his costume.

“I know this is a draw back, I mean Gotham villains are deadly but basically human. Nothing we can't handle. But that Brainiac 13 gives Superman a hard time.” Ted could hear activity in the other room as the criminals tried to come up with a group name “But we can turn this around. Maybe tip the JLA off. I can give them a call once Brainiac 13 has finished with the phone.”

“You gave him the phone?” Booster rolled his eyes “He's probably calling more bloodthirsty fiends to hack us up.”

“So little Lena is behaving herself Mrs Muggin?” Brainiac 13 gently held the hand set to the speaker on his helmet for fear of breaking it “Yes, she is speaking at a young age. She's a very fast learner. Yes, I know she speaks with a man's voice and claims to be a super villain called Brainiac but you know how active a child's imagination is. I'll be around to collect her at 6:00 PM.”

Brainiac 13 put the phone down and realized that the collection of criminals were staring at him.

“Who was that?” Scarecrow said at last.

“My babysitter.” Brainiac 13's electronic voice contained an inflection of embarrassment.

“I've come up with a name for our group!” Harley leapt onto the bar counter and threw her arms wide “Harley's Hate Mongers!”

This was met with silence and collective head shaking. Harley hung her head and slowly climbed off the counter just as Scarecrow stood up, a spindly finger thrust into the air.

“I've got it. The Fear Team.” Scarecrow folded his arms in pride and then noticed that his suggestion had received the same response as Harley Quinn's.

“The Blood Letters.” Mr Zsasz said playing with his knife.

“The Gotham Goons.” Poison Ivy said sarcastically as she dipped her fingers into a glass of water, draining its contents.

“The name is not important.” Brainiac 13 said quickly before anyone could make any further suggestions “What is important is what we do. We need to decide on a plan that will combine our unique qualities.”

Poison Ivy mused on this before she finally spoke “Plants are my speciality, I nearly took over an entire town and would have succeeded if it hadn't been for..”

“Those pesky kids and their dog?” interrupted Harley who was pleased to see Ivy smile in response.

“I can grow us an army of soldiers composed of plants.” Ivy finished.

“Those soldiers will be more effective if they terrify their enemies. With my help they can organically produce a fragrance similar to my own fear toxins,” Scarecrow rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

“Don't forget they have to have curvaceous bodies. Most heroes are male and no man can concentrate when he sets eyes on a real babe,” Harley ran her hands over her body “Like my own, for example.”

“Using technology from my own time I can implant an electronic copy of a mind, allowing greater control over these plant soldiers.” Brainiac 13 held out his gauntlet hand, a small glowing cube rested in it.

“Use my mind, no one knows more about killing than me,” Mr Zsasz pulled off his shirt revealing the hundreds of scars marking his body, all of them in neat rows “Here's the proof.”

“Oh this is good,” Scarecrow seemed to have overcome his earlier nervousness and was pacing up and down the bar in excitement “We can't lose. BWAH-HA-HA-HA!”

At the sound of the laughter, both Ted and Booster jerked to attention, their minds instantly recalling the hundreds of times they had heard that sound before. Even the memories were painful.

“Evil laughter.” Booster stared at the door leading into the bar area “That's never good.”

“Can't we spring the trap now?” Ted went over to oven and pressed the secret button that caused the appliance to spin around and reveal a host of controls “Release the sleeping gas, drop the electrified nets, fire the glue guns?”

“Remember how I said that not all of the supplies had arrived?” Booster started to back towards the door that led to the alleyway behind the bar.


“Well, specifically, the supplies that haven't arrived are the sleeping gas canisters, the nets and the glue guns.”

Ted covered his face with his hands “So the only supplies that did arrive were the drinks and the peanuts. So in other words we're running a normal bar. What part of trap did you not understand?”

“Hey, I was only handling the bar part, you drew up the designs for the traps, it was your job to install those bits” Booster pointed at a red button on the control board “We can still lock the place up. Just press that and metal shutters will cover the building blocking any escape.”

“You're right, why didn't I think of that?” Ted placed his finger on the button.

“Because I am the brains of this operations.” Booster grinned.

Ted pressed the red button and kitchen was filled with a short burst of a ringing bell. Frowning Ted pressed it again and got exactly the same response.

“That's the alarm bell,” he said pressing the button again “That should be wired up behind the bar.”

“They must have been wired incorrectly. The shutter button is probably in there,” Booster indicated towards the bar where more evil laughter could be heard “One of us better go and press it.”

Ted waited for a moment while Booster stared at him from behind his goggles “It's me isn't it? You want me to go back into a room full of psychotic killers, press a button that will seal them in and try to get out before I am trapped in there to suffer a fate worse than death. Is that what you're asking me to do?”

“Yes,” Booster looked extremely pleased.

“Right,” Ted spun round and walked back into the bar.

“Couldn't happen to a nicer guy,” Booster watched the door swing shut.

In the bar Ted found a bizarre scene unfolding. In the center of the room, Poison Ivy was tending a green plant that was quickly expanding and moulding itself to copy Harley Quinn's form. Scarecrow observed the process and occasionally added a small portion of his fear toxins to the plant's roots.

While that was going on, Mr Zsasz was slumped in a chair, the small metal box Brainiac 13 had produced resting on his forehead. Brainiac 13 observed the procedure, apparently pleased with how his invention was working.

Ted tried to slip by unnoticed, but as he stepped behind the bar he stepped on a creaky floorboard. The noise caught Harley Quinn's attention. She gave Ted a disturbing smile.

“Well hello Ward, you don't mind if we carry out our little project do you?” Harley Quinn sauntered over to the bar.

“No, not at all,” Ted froze in place, afraid to even look in the direction of the button.

The plant continued to grow, its surface hardening, sharp thorns growing along its arms and face, small pods along its spine started to release short bursts of fear toxin. Its fingers started to flex as it gained life, its mouth pulling into a smile.

Mr. Zsasz was drooling, the box on his forehead flashing at great speed “I can see everyone I've killed. It's so beautiful. The red of their blood, the tearing of flesh, the look of terror….”

“I can relate to that.” The Scarecrow said before he returned his attention to the pods on the plant's back.

“The box is making a copy of your memories, when we fuse it with the plant it will be able to play them back, allowing our soldier to draw on those skills.” Brainiac 13 explained.

“It seems a shame to contaminate our creation with a machine,” Poison Ivy ran a hand over the creature's cheek and it responded by tilting its head into the warm touch, a murmur of pleasure escaping it's leafy lips.

“Experience is what wins or loses a battle,” Brainiac 13 removed the box from Mr Zsasz's forehead.

“Oh break out the champagne Ward,” Harley leapt on to the counter and leant back “it's time to celebrate.”

“Right, we have some over here.” Ted slowly started to slide along towards where the button was located, painfully aware that Harley Quinn was watching him intently.

Brainiac 13 carefully carried the glowing box over to the plant that was now tentatively reaching out to touch Poison Ivy. The plant let out a screech as the box slipped through its green caprice, leaving no trace of its passage.

“The device will now download its information,” Brainiac 13 watched with pride as energy crackled through the plant.

After a short time the creature stopped it's wailing and jerked to attention. It then grinned, its eyes glowing a dark red. With a flick of its wrists long sharp spikes shot out.

“When can I start killing?” The creature said, its voice thick and gurgling, its throat clogged with sap.

Ted couldn't see how things could get any worse.

Michael had just finished putting on his work clothes over his costume. After much consideration he decided that he might stand a better chance of getting away if he wasn't dressed in a bright yellow and blue costume. He still kept his force field belt on, ready to activate it should he be attacked.

While he joked with Ted, he knew that he couldn't leave him behind. If he heard Ted screaming Michael would turn on his force field belt, plow his way into the room, snatch Ted up as if he were a football, and then dash out again. It would be no different that the football games he played that had made him a star.

A knock on the back door caught Michael by surprise. The knocking continued and Michael wondered who it could be but he was very grateful that he had put his civilian clothes back on. It would not looked good for Booster Gold to open the door to villain's hideout.

Tentatively, Michael opened the door and saw only the red brick wall of the alley. He looked down slightly and saw three teenagers with very angry expressions on their faces. One had black hair and was dressed in a leather jacket, underneath which he wore a shirt with a large “S”, next to him was a blond haired girl also wearing a leather jacket but her shirt had a double “W”, the shortest of the bunch was a boy with a mop of unruly brown hair and he wore a red and white skin tight suit.

“Young Justice?” Michael said recalling where he had seen the trio before “Wait, it's not what you think!”

“You mean you're not running a refuge for criminals?” Superboy clenched his red-gloved hand “Then this is for false advertising.”

Before Michael could protest further, Superboy punched him, sending him sailing across the kitchen and crashing into the control desk, shattering it and causing the alarm bell to ring constantly.

“Nice going Superboy” Wonder Girl scolded “We were supposed to be using stealth.”

“Robin does stealth and I do hitting things real hard. And since Robin isn't here….”

“Whenwesawthatadvertontheinternetwecouldnotjustwaitforrobbytogetbackfromwhereeveritisheis.” Impulse said in a blur as he sped round Michael, tying him up in loose wires “webettergetinthereandcaptureallthosecriminals.”

“I think he says we should capture the criminals before they escape. If they haven't already.” Wonder Girl dashed towards the door that led to the bar.

“You can't go in there, you're underage.” Michael protested, desperately trying to reach the controls on his force field belt.”

“He's right guys. Both of you are less than three years old.” Wonder Girl smiled at the two boys.

Impulse and Superboy looked at each other as Wonder Girl entered the bar. They both knew she was right. Superboy had been clone of Superman and grown until physically he looked like a teenager while Impulse's super fast metabolism had made him grow at an incredible rate until was also a teenager. They also both knew that common sense or logic had rarely stopped them before, so they charged into the bar.

“Ow!” Mr Zsasz clutched his head where the box had been “My head is ringing.”

“It's not just your head.” Harley looked towards the kitchen where a bell could be heard constantly “I heard it ringing before but now its gone nuts.”

“It's an alarm,” Poison Ivy snarled pointing her wrist at Ted, sharp thorns pointing at his neck “If this is a trap you are in big trouble Ward.”

It was at that moment that the door flew open and Wonder Girl strode in. Her look of confidance soon faded as she saw the sheer number of criminals in the room. Mr Zsasz was struggling out of his seat, clutching his knife, Brainiac 13's battlesuit let out pressurised air as it lumbered towards her, Scarecrow was readying his fear toxin, and Harley Quinn was grinning insanely.

“Would you consider surrendering?” Wonder Girl asked meekly as a knife whipped past her ear, cutting off a strand of hair “Didn't think so.”

Ted dove for cover as Poison Ivy unleashed a volley of thorns which thudded into the wall behind him. Wonder Girl flew into the air to avoid any more missiles, leaving the door clear when Superboy and Impulse dashed into the room to find the fight had already started.

Kill them!” Poison Ivy told her plant soldier.

“With pleasure,” the plant leapt into the air and somersaulted so she was falling head first towards Superboy, spikes pointed straight at his head.

Superboy was surprised by the direct assault but managed to grab hold of the spikes before they made contact “Back off lady. I already had my green's today.”

Wonder Girl was sitting on Brainiac 13's back, pounding the battlesuit's head that was stubbornly refusing to dent “Where the heck did you get this?”

“Krypton,” Brainiac 13 said simply, picking Wonder Girl off his back and flinging her across the room.

Scarecrow was about to throw his fear toxins when he found that he was no longer holding them. He looked up and saw Impulse waving at him from the other side of the room, the young boy's arms cradling Scarecrow's entire collection of chemicals.

“I'm melting, I'm melting!” Superboy fell to the floor flaying about as the plant soldier bellowed fear poison “My legs have gone!”

Wonder Girl pointed to Impulse “Give that over grown asparagus a taste of her own medicine.”

“GoodideaCassie,ImeanWonderGirl.WatchoutMrZsaszisbehindyou.” Impulse became a blur again as he raced over to the green soldier as she prepared to skewer Superboy.

With the sound of shattering glass the soldier was doused in vile chemicals. She froze in place as the liquids were soaked into her leafy hide. The plant then started to scream, her eyes growing wide.

“Locusts! They're eating me. I have to stop them.” The soldier started to strike herself with her spikes, trying to slay her imaginary enemy.

Spinning around, Wonder Girl saw Mr Zsasz about to strike her with his bloody knife. Foam encircled his mouth and his muscles were taught. The sheer animalistic nature of the killer was terrifying. This time, however, he had picked the wrong victim.

The knife broke in two as it hit Wonder Girl's up raised hand. Mr Zsasz looked at his broken knife in shock, and then back at the young girl, just in time to see her fist make contact with his nose.

Wonder Girl didn't have time to relax however as she was covered in silly string that burned her skin. Harley Quinn was dancing around her holding a gleaming can, spraying more and more of the brightly coloured threads over her.

“How do you like it? It's my own acid silly string. I am planning to market it.” Harley bounced around as Wonder Girl let out yelps of pain as the she was sprayed in the face.

“You okay?” Impulse asked, slowing down so he could actually be seen clearly.

Superboy nodded, clutching his head, with his teammates help he managed to get to his feet “That was nasty. I thought I was turning to goo. It's passed now.”

“Then lets deal with that over grown tinker toy,” Impulse shot forward weaving in and out of Brainiac 13's legs, delivering well placed punches.

Crawling along the floor behind the bar Ted could see the gold button. He tried to ignore the sounds of battle and the plaster that was falling on his head. Once he pressed the button all he had to do was get out.

There was a crash as Harley Quinn hit the wall above him, smashing several bottles before she dropped down just in front of Ted. She shook her head, causing her tassels to thrash about before she opened her eyes and saw both Ted and the gold button.

“What you doing Ward?” She said in a menacing voice “Were you going to press that button? What does it do?”

Ted paused for a moment and then a plan came into his mind “No! What ever you do don't press it!”

Harley looked at the button “Oh, I could never resist that.”

The insane femme fatale reached up and pushed the button and instantly the room started to shake. The fighting stopped as metal shutters started to slide out of their hiding place to cover the windows and doors.

The kitchen door flew open to reveal Booster, his shirt torn exposing the star on his chest “Come on Beetle, let's get out of here.”

“Oh cripes, we attacked Starman!” Superboy said, staring at Booster.

Ted pushed himself away from Harley and pushed past Booster, making for the rear exit. Booster ducked back as a shutter blocked the doorway. As the rushed through the kitchen they could hear the battle continuing.

“Do you think Young Justice will be alright?” Booster weaved around the counters as he made for the back door; the shutter was half way down.

Ted ducked through the rapidly reducing exit “Sure, they're not like we were. They'll be able to defeat those criminals easily. Mr Zsasz and Scarecrow were out of the game and that plant of theirs was pulling itself apart.”

“Guess you're right.” Booster skidded under the shutter just as it closed “They'll be okay until the JLA arrive.”

Outside Ted was brushing himself off; he was extremely pleased with himself as the two heroes walked back on to the main street “Told you things would work out okay. The bad guys are caught and it's all thanks to us.”

“And Young Justice.” Booster indicated towards the shaking building.

“We would have been all right even if they hadn't turned up,” Ted had to raise his voice to be heard over the explosions coming from within the bar “Trust, me everything has worked out for once.”

As they came out to the front of the building they almost walked straight into the imposing form of Darkseid. His grey, craggy face regarded them with distaste, his huge gauntleted hand clasped behind his back.

“Gentlemen, I would like to discuss the unauthorised use of my planet's name,” his voice boomed like thunder.

“Gulp” said Michael and Ted in unsion.

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