Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

Villainy On Vacation

"The Last Round-Up"

What has come before:

Ra's al Ghul and his daughter Talia freed the Arkham Asylum inmates and, through the Joker, convinced them to leave Gotham City to terrorize other towns. As news of their terrorizing various superheroes spread, Captain Boomerang and Shrapnel (operating as pawns of Ra's) entice other supervillains to branch out and tackle new opponents.

Meanwhile, Ra's has targeted a dozen U.S. cities for an unrevealed plot.

"Yuh little brat!" Bolt cried, firing his lightning blast in Robin's direction. "Pests shouldn't mess with a bug zapper!"

The Boy Wonder barely avoided the bolt of energy as he vaulted aside on his bo staff. Robin dodged past fleeing movie fans and glanced left to make sure Bolt's intended target was still hiding behind the theater counter. He'd hoped to get the movie star safely to his HUMVEE, but Bolt's skill at teleportation made that an unsafe method of escape. No, if he was to prevent the assassination, he had to take out Bolt.

"Iff you want money, I"ll pay it! Vatever you wont!" the man shouted from behind the counter. "Just don't hurt Maria und the kids!"

"Please stay down, sir!" Robin cautioned, taking refuge behind a pillar in the lobby. "He can't be bought off that easily." Grabbing his R-dart from his chest and dipping a powerful tranquilizer on its tip, Robin steeled himself and spun.

Bolt was gone.

"Lookin' fer me?" the Texan drawled from behind Robin's back. "Gonna have to be faster than that. A lot faster." Robin turned to see the teleporting hitman floating inches away. Bolt grabbed him by the tunic. "Yuh put up a good fight, kid. No shame in that. Yer jest outclassed. Now, you kin either let me complete my contract…or you can resist and end up a cinder. Git me?"

Robin stared into the steely eyes of the killer and knew he didn't stand much chance against the high-voltage villain. The theater was silent but for the sirens and commotion outside. The only sound in the lobby was that of the movie star and his family huddling in fear and sobbing behind the popcorn machine. Tim Drake gripped his bo staff and stuck his lower lip out at Bolt. "Take yer best shot, yuh mangy varmint!"

Bolt frowned…and disappeared in a flash of electricity! Robin gasped in surprise, wondering if he'd stared the villain down. Then he looked right and saw Impulse standing over the unconscious form of Bolt. "Oracle said you might need some help!" he shouted.

"You know Batman doesn't like you operating in Gotham!" Robin snapped, before holding up his hand to indicate that they'd discuss the matter later. The movie star and his family ventured out from their hiding place.

"Hey! It's the I'll-Be-Back Guy!" Impulse shouted.

"Vot did dot man vant with me?" he asked in his famous accent.

"He was hired to kill you, sir," Robin said, trying to still his excitement at meeting the action hero. "The police commissioner has evidence that Bolt was hired by movie producer Noel Dressmaker."

"What?! But why? I don't understond!"

"The movie you're filming right now for next July 4, 'Rock of Easy Company', is scheduled to open the same weekend as his $250 million movie 'Sonic Disruptors,'" Robin elaborated. "His movie has troubles, and it was cheaper to eliminate you and stall your production."

Robin took Impulse by the shoulders and led him away as the police took Bolt into custody. "See? It does pay to read Cinescape!"


"Robin reports that Bolt is in custody. The rest of the Young Justice team are investigating rumors of the Clock King operating in Chattanooga," Oracle reported over Batman's earpiece.

Batman grunted an acknowledgement and raced down the passenger car's center aisle. Big Sir and Major Disaster ran ahead of him into the next car. While Batman hauled out a mini-torch to cut away the jammed door, he saw Disaster use his powers to disable the railroad car's coupling. Tearing at the door, he leapt the gap between the cars as they separated.

"These two are almost apprehended. Who else?" Batman asked as he made his way through the empty elevated train car.

"Latest reports indicate that the Justice Society are fighting the Royal Flush Gang in Memphis," Oracle continued. "Nightwing last reported in that Toyman and Puppet Master rigged thousands of the hot new Zoo Crew action figures released in the Blüdhaven area before making their getaway. They're programmed to kill their owners on Christmas Day. Fellow Titans Cyborg and Jesse Quick are helping to locate them. Should be a quite a sight to see them smashing all those Pig Irons and Fastbacks!"

"Hrm," Batman mumbled, almost to the front car. "Keep an eye on all activities, and coordinate the return to Belle Reve. I want all of these people in the tightest security before they're returned to their usual confines."

"Why not Blackgate?" Oracle asked, tapping away at her keyboard.

"Louisiana is centrally-located, and most of the criminals are spread across the country. I want them in prison before they can be intercepted. We'll use Belle Reve's JLA link-up to teleport the villains to their assigned locations from there. Besides, the villains striking the northeast metroplex are few and far between." Batman continued talking as he entered the front car. Big Sir was hauling the operator out of his control booth. "And pretty dumb," he added.

"Stay back," Major Disaster warned. "All we want to do is get away. If you try to stop us, I can assure you there will be loss of life."

"Taking an innocent conductor hostage is low, even for you, Disaster!" Batman growled.

"Oh, I don't mean his life. Now, Big Sir!" Disaster shouted. Big Sir hurled the conductor at Batman, who tried to cushion the man's landing with his body. The two of them crashed into the back of the car in a tangled pile of limbs and bat-cape.

"Uh, that didn't do any good, Maje. He's still in the car with us. Whattawe do now?" Big Sir asked, panicking.

"Don't worry. Remember when I threw that paper clip out the window at a 38° trajectory eight minutes ago?" Major Disaster asked, grabbing a handhold with all of his might. "It's about to pay off. Hang on!"

As he spoke, there was the sound of an auto accident twenty feet away and an immense street light fell through the commuter train car, slicing it in two. The front half, carrying Major Disaster and Big Sir, dropped to the rails and began slowing down. The back half of the car and all of the cars behind it jumped the track and began barrelling down the hillside. Batman hooked an arm around the terrified man and braced his legs against the nearby seat.

When the dust settled, Batman set the conductor's broken bones and had Oracle dispatch rescue workers to the accident. "Major Disaster and Big Sir are still on the loose. Do me a favor," he added, "and don't tell Robin and Nightwing."


"Hey, why add pride to your list of injuries?" Barbara Gordon chided before signing off on her headset. Pulling up her overview of current encounters, she checked the latest news against her master list of remaining villains, locations and available heroes she could dispatch via the JLA frequency.


"You're hardly playing fair, Mxyzptlk!" Zatanna challenged. "Hourman beat you fair and square. You're not supposed to be back for 90 days!" She gestured towards the animated billboards and muttered, "Solog nruter ot etaminani etats!"

The pesky imp reclined on the swinging arm of the cowboy sign and glanced around Las Vegas. "That's just the rules of my game with Superman, toots, and I didn't set any rules with Hourman. He defeated me, so I withdrew, but now I'm back to fight someone new. In fact, I could even change the challenge if I wanted to."

"Fine, have your fun!" Zatanna said, floating on her magic carpet. "My magic can just outdo anything you do, since my mastery of the mystic arts is beyond your comprehension." With that she flew by the casinos where the slot machines were chasing the patrons. "Eno demra stidnab og kcab ot gnimrah elpoep ni lanoitnevnoc syaw!"

"My powers come from powerful fifth dimensional science! What's the big deal about your power? Ooooh, backwards spells. I'm so scared. Anyone with a Beatles album on vinyl can do that!" Mxyzptlk raged, bringing the cowboy sign to life.

"'Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him!'" Zatanna said with a giggle, flying towards Mxyzptlk. "My power is greater because only I can cast these spells. It's a family secret passed down from Leonardo da Vinci himself, and I'm the last of my family. Anyone from your dimension could do what you can do, but you can't do this." With that, she gestured at the cowboy sign and said, "Erongi Kltpzyxm dna nruter ot lamron!"

"Bah! Anybody can say, 'Erongi Kltpzyxm dna…' … OH, SH--" Mxyzptlk shouted, disappearing.


"Have at you!"

"Gesundheit!"

KLANG! KLANG! BANG! KLANG! K-KLANG! BONG! KLANG!

The duel continued up the castle stairs as the two men's swords flashed and darted.

"Ha! First cut is mine. Th'art bested, foul villain. Pray you, concede now…lest this battle continue and thy blood shouldst taint mine blade!" Shining Knight spat.

"A fine lunge, stout fellow, but victory may yet be mine! Ha-ha!" Cavalier said, striking back. "I fear you put too much faith in your invincible armor; your technique is sorely lacking. Ho-ho. Ha! Take that! And that!"

"I do not take bargain goods, brigand. Though you may have stolen my armor, my fighting spirit thou shalt never have!" Sir Justin replied, pursuing the Cavalier further up the parapet.

"Ha ha ha!" the announcer laughed as realistically as he could. "Just one of the many surprises we have here at 'Medieval Village'! Enjoy your meals everyone!" As he spoke, the Cavalier flew by clinging to a tapestry. "Remarkable swordsmanship, innit? You'd almost swear it was real! If anyone needs a refill on your Coke, simply signal for a kitchen wench. Whoah! Watch out for that flying horse, everyone."


"Black Manta encountered Black Lightning in Brick City, where he was raiding an aquarium" Oracle summarized, racing across as many news wires as she could at once. Her JLA communicators were tuned in to the frequencies used for general superhero usage. She tried to write up briefs on all of the encounters as they flowed in.

"Scarecrow managed to get away from Dr. 13 in Atlanta," Oracle typed. "Apparently he gave him a bad case of triskadekaphobia…the fear of the number 13."


"Burn, baby, burn!" Firefly cried as the obelisk outside the Flash museum went up in flames. "Oh, it's glorious! Licks of red, billows of black. Wonderful!"

"You are a serious looney, Firefly!" the Flash said as soon as he arrived. "Fortunately, I've been meaning to remove that obelisk that the other Flash built…but I'd advise you to stay away from the museum. We've just finished rebuilding it!"

Firefly was already igniting the door with his flamethrowing gun. "Watch all the beautiful exhibits BURN! There's nothing you can do to stop my beautiful fl-!"

With that, Firefly was unconscious and Flash extinguished the small fire. End of encounter. (Well, he IS the Fastest Man Alive! Let's be a little realistic.)


In Blue Valley, S.T.R.I.P.E. was attempting to override his targeting scanners, which were centering on his own step-daughter, the Star-Spangled Kid. "Courtney! Move! I'm not in control! The system is targeting you now!"

The automated hand of S.T.R.I.P.E. centered on Courtney's location. "DEPLOYING REMOTE CRUSH GRIP."

"Yeah, look out Courrrrrrrrrtney!" said Cliff Carmichael, the psychotic cyberpunk known as the New Thinker. "Daddy's suit has got a new wearer!"


"Bolt! You got away!" Shrapnel shouted upon seeing the blue-suited hitman burst into view.

"We saw on the news that you'd gotten caught," Deadshot said, his voice not betraying any real concern for his fellow Killer Elite teammate, since, of course, there was none. Merlyn and Deadline grabbed the woozy villain as he started fo stumble.

"Yuh. One second I'm about to kill that punk kid, the next 'Blammo'. I'm seeing stars. Managed to pop a cop and pop out of there before they snapped a collar on me," Bolt drawled. "Then I jumped back to the rendezvous."

"There's no stopping you, Bolt!" Deadline said, impressed that he'd gotten away. "Let me buy you a drink. You could use one."

"Sure could!" Bolt agreed, guiding the others to a nearby bar.

"Are you sure this is wise? We are still in Gotham and in costume," Merlyn pointed out.

"Nah, don't worry about it. Batman hardly ever comes to this part of town, and they don't care around here," Deadshot said, removing his mask so he could drink. "Bartender! Five beers, and keep 'em coming."

"I AM BAYTOR!" exulted the demon in the apron as he served up five frothy mugs.

At a nearby table, an unkempt man in a green trenchcoat stopped playing cards with his fat buddy in the ugly hat, and they turned to watch the newcomers.

"Gentlemen, and you guys, I'd like to propose a toast," Deadline said, raising his glass. "To the deadliest hitmen ever to walk the Earth!" The others raised their mugs in unison.

There was the sound of two men tripping the action on four guns behind them, and seconds later the Killer Elite were drenched in beer and broken glass.


The rest of that scene could not be included in an all-ages magazine.


"He's wonderful! I love him!" The Toyman shrieked, running down the Metropolis street carrying a bundle.

"Hey, come back with that spunky sidekick! Thief!" Irwin Schwab yelled, slamming the door to his detective agency and taking off in a mad run. "How dare you five-finger discount my partner in crime-fighting! I'll see that you get life for this!"

Ambush Bug quickly caught up to the old man, who'd made a wrong turn into a dead-end alley.

"No, you won't appreciate him like I do," Toyman protested, clutching Cheeks the Toy Wonder to his chest. "They don't make toys like him anymore. That's delicate hand stitching. The eye is actually sewed on, not glued. And look at the distinctive shape of the jaw. Someone worked hard on him. Someone loved him. Why don't kids like toys like him anymore?" Toyman sobbed. "Instead, he's stuffed into a bad costume by a badly costumed loon."

"All right, that does it! That's a fluffy friend of justice you're manhandling, and I want him back!" Ambush Bug yelled, grabbing Cheeks by the ears and tugging with all his might.

"Oh, why don't you just…erk…go buy a Zonestation 2 and sit in front of it all day. This…gek…grt…belongs in the hands of a young child! Let go of him or I'll slit your throat!" Toyman screamed through tears, tugging at Cheeks' legs.

Suddenly there was a loud rending of cloth and both men went flying. Toyman and Ambush Bug scrambled about in the snow and looked at the ground of the alley.

Cheeks' head lay five feet away from his body. Stuffing was scattered all around the broken glass and cigarette butts.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggggghhhhhhh!" they both screamed.

The two of them scrambled over to the prostrate figure and began grabbing at wads of spun polyester. "Here's some!" Toyman said.

"I've got some more!" Ambush Bug replied, picking up every little white tuft he could find.


"Hey, Roy……Uffffff" huffed Arn Munro as he threw Bane over his head and into a cotton candy vendor’s cart. "How about a little help here?"

"I’m still mad at you for getting my boat smashed up by the Marine Marauder" answered Roy Lincoln as he watched the KGBeast land a powerful blow to his friend’s chest.

"Wasn’t my….Whoa!" wheezed Munro as he dodged another of the Russian’s blows. "Fault. How was I supposed to stop two irate zombie whales?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." replied Roy. "This is one bad day, all right. First Sea World and now these two are terrorizing Disney World!"

"Roy……" pleaded Munro as he landed a double fisted blow to the Beast’s backside.

Shrugging his shoulders, Roy strode over towards Bane.

"Outta my way old man" yelled Bane, gazing furiously at the octogenarian standing before him.

"Make me." deadpanned Roy, who despite being a full six inches shorter and sixty decades older, returned the villain’s menacing gaze.

Bane snarled, and with all his might, swung at the ex-Freedom Fighter. Roy Lincoln didn’t budge.

BOOM!


"Report from Orlando says that Iron Munro and the Human Bomb have successfully captured their quarry" said Oracle to Batman. "Have the Belle Reeve medical staff on stand by. Bane seems to have been….well….kind of….blown up…."

Batman arched an eyebrow at Oracle’s interesting choice of words before he spoke. "Tell them that Azrael is en route with Captain Cold and Dr. Double X. We’ve cleared out most of the villains still in Gotham."


"Indefatigable! Spell it, sonny, spell it" ordered the mad scientist/intellectual known as I.Q. to the young boy he held tightly by the shirt collar.

"Uh…I-N-D…"

"Put the boy down" came a voice from behind the frightened audience at the National Spelling Bee. "And pick on someone of your own intellectual aptitude!"

Mr. Terrific strode down the aisle and jumped up onto the stage. The crowd breathed a sigh of relief as I.Q. released the boy and the other contestants.

"Are you challenging me?" asked the bemused villain.

"You misspell a word before I do, you come along quietly" said Terrific. "And if I make the first mistake, you go free."

"How do I know this isn’t some trick?"

Mr. Terrific simply pointed to the words adorning the sleeves of his jacket. "I always play fair"


"Waller? This is Oracle. The Leymen have stopped the Madmen’s attempted destruction of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Meridian’s teleporting them to you, and I’ve got Jack O’Lantern and Willpower on standby.

"Good" came the terse reply from Belle Reeve. "Waller out."


"Bwahahahahahahaha! Bwahahahahahahaha!"

"Supes? Supes? Whas a matter wit’ choo?" asked Bibbo. "Why youse laughin like that?"

"Can’t….can’t help…. bwahahahahahahaha" roared the Man of Steel.

"C’mon, Irishman, why can’t Big Blue have a few laughs now and then?" asked the Psycho-Pirate. "In fact. I think you’re overdue for some yourself."

"A-heh, A-heheheheheheheh" laughed Bibbo as he unwittingly looked at the Pirate’s Medusa Mask. "This ain’ funny, but I just can’t help it"

"Got to get, ha hah ha, get that mask off him, ha hah ha" giggled Superman. "Maybe a big gust, ha hah ha, of super, ha hah ha…"

One super-belly laugh later, and a gust of super breath had dislodged the mask from the Pirate’s face. Superman had him in custody before anyone could say "what a lame power."


"How about a nice up close and personal view of history, hero?"

"Not gonna have time to dodge…..Oh, rot!"

CLANG! BONG!

"Ray? Ray? You OK?" asked Oracle. "What was that noise?

"Damn it!" said Ray Terrill, as he touched the earpiece of his metallic yellow, fin adorned helmet. "Couldn't dodge Sonar's blast! Landed in Independence Mall….crashed into….Well, let's just say I think the Liberty Bell is gonna have a new crack!"

"Ray, you don't have to dodge" said Oracle gently, remembering how absent minded The Ray could be. "Light travels faster than sound…."

"Oh, yeah" he blushed, as he rocketed back into the sky above Philadelphia.

"Back for another helping, hero?" cackled Sonar, holding the bag containing the stolen printing plates from the Philadelphia Mint in one hand and mocking Ray with the other. "Lemme pump up the volume this time….Maybe boost the bass a lit---"

ZACK!

Before Sonar could finish speaking, numerous bolts of white hot energy sprung from the Ray's hand. The villain convulsed like a moth caught in a bug zapper as he lost consciousness.

"Got 'im Oracle" said Ray, blowing on his smoking fingers like a gunfighter would a gun. "Whoops, hang on, I forgot that unconscious villains can't fly…"


"Phantom Lady, is the Shadow Thief in custody yet?" asked Oracle, as she shifted her attention to events in Washington D.C.

"We're stalemated" replied Dee Tyler, the protege of Sandra Knight, the original Phantom Lady. "Shadow Thief can't touch me in my intangible form, nor can I touch him….My punches just pass right through him!"

"Hang in there, and keep him in sight" ordered Oracle as she tapped her keyboard quickly. "I'm diverting Goldstar to the area. Her magnetic powers should be able to force Shadow Thief back into human form. The latest info I have on him says that his powers are somehow tied into the Earth's magnetic field."

"Goldstar? Booster Gold's secretary?" asked Phantom Lady as she rounded the corner onto K Street, the Shadow Thief a few arm lengths away. "We're really digging deep into our reserves, aren't we?"


"No! You'll ignite the oil reserves!"

Gardner Grayle ducked as Heatstroke's fiery blast ignited the entire US Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Despite the protection provided by his armor, the Atomic Knight could feel the intense heat from the resulting fireball.

"Wendy, we gotta get the civilians out of here!" shouted Grayle to his fiancée, the villain turned heroine known as Windfall. "This whole complex will be cinders in a matter of minutes!"

"I'll try using my wind powers to contain the blaze" answered Windfall as she watched Heatstroke, Coldsnap, and Shakedown escape. "Keep it from spreading…."

Carrying two men out of the burning compound, the Atomic Knight's face tightened at the cruel irony of it all. This time, the Masters of Disaster had lived up to their name.


"Cease and desist this nonsense at once" commanded the Martian Manhunter. "This mindless havoc must stop."

"Oh yeah, well after being merged with my Philosopher's Stone for five years," replied Dr. Alchemy as he turned the local police station into a puddle of bromine, "I think I'm overdue for some mischief making."

"If you insist on continuing this, I will be forced to…"

"To do what?" sneered Dr. Alchemy as he focused the beam from his stone on a tractor trailer truck. "My transmutation powers allow me to take advantage of your greatest weakness! Observe!"

The truck metamorphosed into a gigantic pile of Chocos ® cookies.

"Great sands of Mars!" thought J'Onn. "This will be tougher than I thought!"


Jay Garrick arrived in Seattle. "The JSA Alert said that they emerged from a computer in a cyber-cafe. No address given. Still, how many cyber-cafes can there be?"

The Kilg%re fired another rayblast at The Construct and his Cannons. "You shall not be the reigning electronic consciousness on this planet! I will be!" the Kilg%re shouted.

The Construct's body shattered, then reformed itself into an even deadlier housing. "I have been conscious since this planet's broadcast signals first coelesced. This planet is mine. The radiowaves shall be my voice, the Internet my brain, the machines my body. My world. The world of the Construct. And you are not welcome in it!" the robot bellowed, unleashing a great burst of energy. The Kilg%re evaded the energy beam, which destroyed the Space Needle.

All around the two combatants, people dropped their coffees and ran for cover.

As the battle continued to rage, Jay Garrick found them and slowed to a stop. Glancing around, he found an available terminal at a cybercafe. Grinning, he devised a plan.

Bolting into the street thirty seconds later, the Flash yelled, "Stop! I know why you two are fighting in Seattle. You're planning to take control of Mizersoft Headquarters!"

"Huh?" the two synthetic consciousnesses said, turning.

"Er…yes, of course. That was my brilliant plan," The Construct said, arrogantly.

"No it wasn't. That was my brilliant plan first!" The Kilg%re responded.

"No matter," Flash said. "You'll never get there. I can race around this city and turn off all access terminals before you ever begin to upload your consciousness!"

"You forget, we are beings of the Internet. We know all data that exists. We know you are slower than you once were. Good-bye Flash!" The Construct boasted, racing for the computer that Jay had spotted. The Kilg%re ran in another direction, heading for an ATM that it spotted..

"No! Stop!" Jay shouted, acting very surprised and making a great show of not knowing which villain to chase. Both entities converted themselves to pure energy and disappeared. Jay smiled, and took off in a breakneck run for Mizersoft H.Q.

"We did as you asked, Flash," Brad Towers, President of Mizersoft, said when Flash arrived. "We closed off all terminals except this one. We monitored two massive downloads to it just a moment ago."

"Did you come up with a way to trap them? Both of them are geniuses and they have many devious ways to escape," Jay Garrick fretted.

"We figured we'd just wait until Curtains '98 crashed, which should only be a couple of min- ah, there we are," Towers concluded as a message appeared on a blue screen. The activity lights stopped flashing on the computer, and there was a muffled squelch of anguish from the hard drive.

"I appreciate your cooperation," Jay Garrick said. "Both of them are capable of taking over all the world's computers."

"No problem. If there's one thing we're good at, it's crushing competitors," Towers said, pulling the plug on the computer.

Flash took off with the computer. A few seconds later, he was in the courtyard of Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary, Louisiana, surrounded by superheroes. Here and there Jay spotted subdued supervillains waiting to be processed.

From atop the wall of the prison, a man watched the gathering of heroes and villains…and waited for his moment to strike.

To be continued in "The Vile Vial, Part One"

 
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