Superfreaks/ACRA: Superfreaks Trade Etherback Volume 4 (collecting 14-17)
martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 23 03:26:40 PST 2006
Michael King, Mary Jones and Frank Lopez: crime scene
investigators. John Phelps, Mark Johnston and Tom
Jackson: police officers. Jack Greenspan, Edward
Bailey and Samuel Leonard: medical examiners. Alan
Russell and Leroy Laurel: lawyers. These are the men
and women who are truly our last line of defense. But
what about the capes whose cases they have to
investigate? Should they be considered a help or a
Detective John Phelps sighed a big sigh. "I want to
understand how your Geena Davis clone ended up dead in
your living room with a bullet hole in her head."
"Right," Charles Baxter said, "it a long story."
"Do I look like I'm going anywhere?"
"No. No. Of course not." He sighed. "It's like
this, I thought she was a ghost. Or a zombie. I
mean, it didn't occur to me that they'd just send
"Okay. I'll start from the beginning. I've always
been a big Geena Davis fan. Anyway, my wife got me a
Geena Davis clone for my birthday."
"No. Really. We have an open relationship. Even
so, my wife and I are both past our prime and we
thought she could just cook and clean for us. And do
laundry. Stuff like that."
"The clone was the maid?"
"Exactly. But then one day I sent the clone outside
to put out the garbage. Going outside was never part
of her programming. She got hit by a car."
John Phelps took another look at the body lying in
the living room. "That head wound doesn't look
consistent with a car accident."
"Oh no no no," Charles said. "That was the first
"The first one?"
"Yeah. See, I didn't realize it at first but seeing
as how our clone did get herself killed and accidental
death was part of our warranty then my wife must have
called Clones R Us and asked them to send a
"Thing is, my wife didn't tell me so when this new
one shows up my door so soon after the last one got
killed -and she's a brand new clone right off the
assembly line or whatever so she doesn't say much or
rather she didn't- and she's got this blank look on
her face and, well, I guess I've seen maybe one too
many zombie movies and I just freaked out and grabbed
my gun and started shooting, you know before she could
"Fine. I'll plead temporary insanity. Or self
defense. I really did think she was a zombie. I
mean, I don't know, I really thought for a moment that
the first clone had come back to life."
"Hold on," John said with a slight grimace. "It
turns out that there's no law that says you can't kill
your own clone, seeing as how it is your property.
Now, seeing as how you say your wife must have ordered
a replacement I suppose your wife could press
"Oh!" Charles said. "I called her after I called
you. After I called 911 I mean and they sent you
here. She'll be home soon. She just had some things
to finish up."
"You told her what happened?"
"Yeah. She's pissed actually. I mean the warranty
doesn't cover fatal shootings."
"I don't imagine it does."
Just then there was a rumbling sound and the whole
room started to shake.
"What's this?" Phelps asked. "An earthquake."
"I guess so," Baxter said, "not that I've ever felt
that strong an earthquake."
Phelps shrugged his shoulders. "I don't even know
if there's a faultline near here."
"There must be," Baxter reasoned. "I mean, that
felt pretty strong so the epicentre can't be too far
"Guess so," Phelps said. "So when do you figure
your wife will get here?"
"Around eight or so."
"Mrs. Baxter? I'm Detective John Phelps from the
Pepperton Police Department."
June Baxter nodded. "I'm sorry about this,
"Your husband says that this is the second Geena
Davis clone that they sent you. Is that correct?"
"Yes, that's right. The first one died in an
accident. She was hit by a car."
"And you didn't tell your husband that you had
ordered a replacement?"
"Not in so many words but... Jesus, Chuck, you knew
about the warranty!"
"I know I know," Charles said sadly.
"And what if it had been the real Geena Davis?
Would you have killed her?"
"You'd be going to jail for sure if you had killed
the real Geena Davis."
John Phelps nodded. "As it is," he said, "I'm going
to write this down as an accidental homocide."
"Thank you!" Charles said.
"Don't thank me," John insisted. "Thank your wife.
She could, conceivably have pressed charges. I assume
you're not going to...?"
"No," she said.
"Because although it is my opinion that a real
living human being was killed today, the fact remains
that they could just make another one. And, as you
said, the real Geena Davis is still alive and well."
He grimaced. "I would ask, however, that you be more
careful in the future. Both of you. It does cheapen
the value of human life to say 'Oops, she's dead.
Let's get a new one.'"
John had just gotten home and turned on the TV.
>>... what appears to have been a meteor that fell
from space hit the town of Saint Michael today killing
an estimated one thousand, three hundred people...<<
John thought for a moment. Saint Michael. That's
Apparently that wasn't an earthquake.
Experts were sent in from all over the tri-state
area, experts from the FBI, FEMA, CIA, even the FAA
given their expertise regarding crash sites.
Detective Michael King was sent in both because of his
military background and because they needed a forensic
expert to help identify victims, assuming their bodies
weren't completely vapourized by the heat of the
impact, of course. Going in, nobody suspected that
this was anything other than a meteorite impact.
"Who's in charge here?" he asked.
"I am. I'm Matthew Rosen from the FAA. We tracked
the course of the meteor by radar before it hit the
ground and we were the first on the scene."
"Fair enough," Michael said. "Can I see the
"It's still a bit hot."
"I'll take off my jacket then."
"We believe the meteor struck right here."
"What's with all the twisted metal?" Michael asked.
"Presumably this is from one of the buildings in the
town," Matthew speculated.
"But Saint Michael was a small town. What buildings
were here that there would have been this much
"Perhaps some of the metal came from the meteor."
Michael shook his head. "This was all refined
metal. It doesn't look like a meteor impact so much
as a crash site."
Matthew smiled. "It wasn't a plane crash. No
planes are missing. And besides, the object came from
Michael gave him a blank stare. "That doesn't rule
out a crash."
"What are you suggesting?" a woman at the site
"Excuse me?" Michael asked. "You are...?"
"FBI Special Agent Lana Lewis. I'm didn't mean to
evesdrop I was just wondering if you were suggesting
what I thought you were suggesting."
Michael gestured at the area around him. "Well just
take a look around. If you didn't know that this was
supposed to be the site of a meteor impact then
wouldn't you think it was an airplane crash site?"
"Which means?" both Matthew and Lana asked.
"Do I have to spell it out? My guess is that some
sort of spacecraft crashed here."
"A spacecraft?" Lana asked. "A UFO?"
"Until it hit," Michael argued, "in which case it
stopped being an unidentified flying object and became
an unexplained hole in the ground."
"We have an explanation," Matthew said. "It was a
"If this was a UFO then where are the little green
men?" Lana asked.
Michael sighed. "Okay, look, you're both working
for the government, right?"
"Yeah," Matthew and Lana both said.
"So I'm sure either the CIA or homeland security or
the national security agency, somebody in the
government thought to take satelite pictures of the
damn thing as soon as it was in American airspace.
I'd be disappointed, as a taxpayer, to believe
"There are some CIA people on site," Matthew said.
"I can ask them what they know."
"Fine," Michael said.
"This is crazy," Lana complained.
Michael smiled. "Except we're living in a world
where people fly, climb walls and have razor sharp
claws pop out of their forearms. And that's just in
"You wanted to speak with me?"
"Depends," Michael said. "Who are you?"
"CIA Special Agent Gary O'Henry. You wanted to look
at some satelite images."
"Yeah. Do you have any?"
"Only the ones downloaded to my laptop."
"Let's see them."
Michael and Gary went over to a table that had been
set up at the site. Gary set up his laptop and the
two of them sat down.
"I swear we don't have clear pictures of the object
coming down because it was already getting dark. But
we do have good pictures of the impact and the
aftermath. These pictures here are in infrared."
"What's this?" Michael asked, pointing to an object
on the screen.
"It appears to be a piece of burning debris."
"Can you show me a series of satelite images in
succession starting from the time of impact and
separated about a minute apart?"
"You want to see the impact as a stop action movie?"
"Something like that."
"Should only take a moment to set up. Okay. How's
Michael watched as the images appeared on the screen
in front of him. "Now, look, notice how that bit of
debris is moving away from the crash site."
"Must have been something blown away from the
"But look: ten minutes after the impact and this
thing is still moving away from the crash site."
Michael grimaced. "Something emerged from that crater
and walked away."
"This is something big. It's too big for you and me
or anybody here. But I know some people back in
Pepperton and this is a job... for them." He took out
his cell phone and made the call.
"I appreciate you coming," Michael said.
"From what I was told, this is where I need to be
right now," Exreme said.
Matthew, Lana and Gary gathered around: they'd never
seen Extreme in person before.
"Is it okay if Extreme takes a look at the site?"
"Um... yeah... sure," Matthew said.
"You were right to call me here," Extreme said.
"How so?" Michael asked.
"This was not a meteorite."
"What was it?"
"It was a space ship. From planet Neon."
"Is that so?" Michael said, loud enough for Matthew
and Lana to hear him.
"Which means that this planet is in great danger."
"Because as far as I know the entire population of
Neon is dead, all save the one who destroyed them.
The one named Zon."
"Zon?" Michael asked.
"General Zon. He took over the army and was going
to use them to take over the entire planet. When that
failed, he used his weapons to destroy the entire
planet. Nothing survived. So Zon moved on to find
other worlds to conquer."
"And this one is next!"
It was Zon. "You've never been told not to speak of
the devil, hmm? Oh don't look so surprised Earthers,
I've been studying your language and culture so I know
your manner of speaking, inckuding its idioms.
Actually though, Extreme, I was looking for you and
these humans were kind enough to bring you to me."
"I will stop you!" Extreme promised.
"You will try."
Extreme flew at Zon, planning to hit hit but Zon
deftly moved out of the way, causing Extreme to move
"I have all of your powers and more, Extreme. You
should join me. Be my Lieutenant! Together we will
quickly conquer this world! There will be no need for
bloodshed! Isn't that the best way to ensure that
your precious humans don't get hurt?"
"I will never join you!" Extreme said.
Zon sighed. "Very well. You made your choice."
Beams shot out of Zon's eyes and struck Extreme and,
just like that, he was gone.
"Oh my God!" Lana said. "Extreme is dead! He's
Zon flew down and smiled. "Indeed, Extreme is no
more. Now, humans," he said, "kneel before Zon!"
"What the hell happened?"
Detective Michael King didn't appreciate The Super
Soldier's tone: he didn't have to answer to him. That
being said, he had good reason to be upset. "This
creature from planet Neon showed up at what turned out
to be the crash site of his space ship. He just
looked at Extreme and he was gone."
"Gone?" The Super Soldier asked.
"I don't believe it," Amazing Woman said. "I can't
belive anybody could kill Extreme just by looking at
"I was there," Michael said. "I saw the whole
"Take me to where it happened."
"This is it," Michael said. "This is where Extreme
"We shall see," Amazing Woman said.
"What are you going to do?"
"I am going to call upon the Gods of Olympus for
"Yeah. Right," Michael said. "You do that."
Amazing Woman concentrated. After a few seconds,
Michael noticed the sky getting darker as clouds
started to move in from nowhere in particular. Soon
it was so dark that they were only illuminated by the
occasional lightning strike. Then, just as suddenly,
the weather started to clear until, finally, there
wasn't a cloud in the sky.
"Okay," Michael said, still skeptical.
"Extreme is alive," she said.
"Are you sure?" Michael asked.
"So where is he?"
"He's in the Twilight Dimension."
"Twilight Dimension?" Michael asked. "Isn't that an
old TV show hosted by Rod Sterling?"
"That's the Twilight _Zone_."
"So what's the Twilight Dimension?"
"It's the dimension where the criminals of Neon were
sent back when Extreme's father ruled that planet."
"So Zon and Extreme are both aliens from the same
"Yes," Amazing Woman said, "but you already
suspected that, didn't you?"
Michael nodded. "The fact that Zon recognized
Extreme and Extreme recognized Zon. That plus the
fact that they have the same powers."
"Yes," Amazing Woman said, "owing to their exposure
to this planet's sun."
Michael frowned. "You were going to marry him even
though you knew he was an alien?"
Amazing Woman nodded. "It doesn't matter where he
came from. All that matters is te kind of man he is."
Michael sighed. "So is there any way to get him out
of the Twilight Dimension?"
"I don't think so." Amazing Woman sighed sadly.
"He really is gone."
"I'm sorry," Michael said.
"But as long as he lives there is hope!" she said
Michael nodded. "We'd better be getting back."
"The Twilight Dimension, eh?" The Super Soldier
"That's what Amazing Woman said."
"Then there might be a chance of getting him back."
Michael shrugged his shoulders. "Amazing Woman
didn't seem to think so."
"First, though, we need to defeat Zon."
Michael nodded. "Do you mind me asking how? I
mean, Zon has all of Extreme's powers. It seems to me
that you might want to focus on finding some way to
get Extreme back."
The Super Soldier pursed his lips. "Actually, that
we can do. In fact, we've already done it."
"What do you mean?"
The Super Soldier nodded. "Okay. You've wanted to
be in on what we do here, hmm?"
"To the extent that your lack of disclosure might
endanger the public, yes."
"Alright then. What I am about to show you is top
The Super Soldier took Michael deep within Extreme
Force HQ to a top secret cloning laboratory.
"I take it you are familiar with this process."
Michael nodded. "I've seen people getting cloned
before, yes. Who are you cloning here?"
"It hasn't been easy. Extreme's alien DNA is
difficult to clone. It would have been easier if we
could have just simply bred him with a female from his
"I'm sure he would have also prefered that
approach," Michael said with a sly smile.
"Most of the clones were not viable. We had three
near successes before we got an acceptable duplicate."
"Three near successes?"
The Super Soldier nodded. "I'll show you."
The Super Soldier led Michael to a room that looked
partly like a common room in an insane assylum with
it's bare white walls and partly like a kindergarten
with educational toys having been left strewn about.
In the room were four clones of Extreme.
"Our first viable Extreme clone -code named Reject-
looked like it was going to be okay but then, for some
reason, the advanced aging process resulted in his
grotesque appearance. Obviously, we couldn't use this
clone as a replacement for Extreme for any mission in
which he could appear in the public eye."
"Obviously not," Michael said, having to admit to
himself that the way Reject's skin was hanging off his
face was extremely offputting.
"Our second viable Extreme clone -code named
Bizarre- looked fine but when we tried to program him
to do anything we found that he just wasn't able to
accept any of the programming. It was as if his brain
refused to accept any programming."
"As if he had a learning disability?" Michael asked.
"Exactly," The Super Soldier said. "Our third
viable Extreme clone -code named Junior- similarly
stopped developing but in his case the problem was
physical: our experts say that he will never age any
further and that he will forever have the appearance
of a teenager."
"We should be so lucky," Michael quipped.
"Finally, our last viable Extreme clone -code named
Eliminator because that's what he's programmed to do,
elimate any threat capable of taking down the original
Extreme -is an almost perfect copy of the original and
programmed to obey our instructions -subject to a
strict moral code which automatically overrides his
doing any harm to civilians." The Super Soldier
grimaced. "He's our best chance at defeating Zon."
Michael nodded. "Tell me, Super Soldier, have you
ever read Mary Shelly's Frankenstein?"
"Why?" The Super Soldier asked. "Is that
Zon stood in the White House press conference room.
"Am I to understand that if I speak into that camera
over there that I will be seen and heard by the entire
"That is correct," he was told.
"Excellent," he said. "You may begin."
"Alright. You're on the air."
"People of Earth, follow the example of your
President Luthor and kneel before Zon!"
"Never!" Eliminator said, arriving just on cue.
"Extreme!" Zon said. "But I had banished you to the
Eliminator nodded. "Yeah. But I'm back."
"No matter," Zon said. "I will send you right
back." Zon focused his eyes in Eliminator's
Eliminator was ready for him though: he quickly
placed a mirror between himself and Zon and Zon's
eyebeams were reflected back at him.
"No!" Zon said just before he disappeared.
Eliminator stood in front of the camera. "Don't
worry, everybody. You're safe now. Zon..."
>>... won't threaten you anymore!<<
Reject pointed at the TV that had been set up in the
common room for the Extreme clones in Extreme Force
HQ. "Brother Eliminator is on TV."
"That's right," one of his handlers said. "He went
to Washington to stop Zon."
"I could do that."
"You need to stay here."
"I want to leave."
Reject's eyes narrowed. "Try to stop me."
"We have the place surrounded," Detective John
Phelps said as he stood outside the downtown branch of
the National Bank of Pepperton. All available
officers had been told to get to the bank because
there had been a robbery in progress, a robbery that
had since become a hostage situation.
Just then, the bank robber came out with one of the
hostages. She had a gun to her head. "Don't try to
stop me!" he said.
"We're not letting you go!" Officer Tom Jackson
"Put your guns down or I'll shoot her!"
"I don't think so!" Tom said.
"I'll do it! I swear I'll do it!"
"Alright," Officer Mark Johnston said. "Alright.
Tom, put your gun down."
Tom followed Mark's example and put his gun down.
"Now I'm getting out of here!" the robber said.
"Not yet," Mark said. "There's a sniper on the roof
"What? Tell him to back off!"
"We can't. You see, he's just waiting for a clean
shot. Now, if you put down your gun then he'll have
no reason to shoot. What do you say?"
The bank robber lowered his gun and let go of the
girl. She ran off.
Just then, somebody flew down from the sky and
picked up the bank robber.
"Extreme!" Mark said. "It's alright. We've got
this all under control. We don't need any help."
The would be hero ignored Mark. "I exist to deal
with scum like you!" he said to the robber.
"No!" the robber screamed. "Get him off me!"
Tom raised his gun and aimed at him. "Extreme! Put
the man down."
Mark sighed. "Tom, that's enough. Extreme, please,
you're not needed here."
"Yeah," Tom said. "Go after Don Navarro. Or Zon."
"Zon." The name got his attention. "Yes. I must
find Zon. I must show them that I can handle Zon
myself." And having said that, he put the robber back
down and flew off.
Tom watched him fly away. "What was that all
about?" he asked.
"I don't know," Mark said.
"And what the hell happened to Extreme's face!"
Reject flew away from the bank in search of Zon.
But where to find him? Reject didn't know.
Instead, Eliminator found Reject.
"You need to go back to the lab," Eliminator told
"I don't think so!" Reject said. "I'm every bit as
powerful as you! Why do you get to be the hero?"
"Because you were never trained to replace Extreme.
Just look at what just happened at the bank. They
were all afraid of you!"
"I could do your job!" he insisted. "They only
rejected me because I was ugly."
Eliminator nodded. "It may seem wrong to you
"It _IS_ wrong!" Reject screamed. The power of
Reject's voice sent Eliminator flying backwards.
"Try to calm down," Eliminator said.
"_YOU_ calm down!"
"See, now, that doesn't even make sense. You're the
one who is upset."
"Stop trying to confuse me!" Reject flew over and
grabbed Eliminator and started to shake him.
"Let go of me!" Eliminator said as he broke free.
In the process, he hit Reject in the face.
Reject grabbed his face where Eliminator had hit
him. His eyes narrowed. It wasn't so much that
Elimator had hurt him but rather that Eliminator had
hit him at all.
"I'm sorry," Eliminator said quickly.
Reject wasn't listening. "Arrrggghhh!!!" he
screamed as he pummeled into Eliminator.
"This isn't going to solve anything!" Eliminator
said but he fought back anyway, just as his handlers
had programmed him to do in the event he was attacked.
All of Elimator's moves were essentially instinctual,
having been programmed directly into his brain.
Reject, meanwhile, relied on the blind fury of a caged
animal that had just broken free. And he was winning.
"ENOUGH!" said a third party who just arrived on the
scene. Neither Elimator nor Reject expected anybody
else to fly up to them just then. They were even more
surprised to see who it was.
"Extreme?" Eliminator asked.
"Yes, it is me," Extreme said.
"But you were sent by Zon to the Twilight
"I got out," Extreme said matter of factly.
"It's a trick!" Reject insisted. "They just made
Extreme shook his head. "Use your x-ray vision.
Both of you. What do you see? I am a true son of
Neon whereas you two are merely copies produced by
"It's true," Eliminator said. "His body is denser
than ours. He must be at least twice as strong."
"I could take you both on if I wanted," Extreme
insisted. "Is that what you want?"
They didn't answer.
"Right then, as your father -which I am- I insist
that you both go back to HQ. I'm sorry, Eliminator,
but you won't be needed for a while. At least not
until the next time I'm declared dead. Now, come on,
come with me. We don't want anybody to see the three
of us together."
Meanwhile, on a nearby roof top, Timmy Conners was
"Oh boy!" he said. "Peter Whitman is going to love
"Did you see this morning's Daily World?"
Detective Michael King looked up and saw District
Attorney Alan Russell standing in front of his desk.
Alan Russell put the newspaper on his desk and
pointed to the picture next to the headline "Three
Extremes!". "What are they doing, Mike? Are they
cloning Extreme now?"
"You knew about this?"
"The one who defeated Zon wasn't Extreme. That was
a clone. As far as I know, the real Extreme is still
in the Twilight Dimension."
"The What Dimension?"
"The Twilight Dimension. Zon sent him there."
"Okay. So with Extreme gone they replaced him with
"Yeah. But one was just a runt. Just a boy I
"Yeah." Michael sighed. "Anyway, think of it this
way, if one Extreme is good, four is better."
"Right. As long as they don't all go screwing
around." Alan grimaced. "You know the Tammy case is
coming up for appeal and now I find out that the
government is in the cloning business..."
"Actually, the Extreme clones are not for sale."
"I should hope not!" Alan sighed. "You know, some
people are buying clones and having them be the maid."
"Where does it end? We're going to end up a country
that emplloys a race of slaves. We did that before
and look how it turned out."
Michael nodded. "With all due respect, it's still a
lot cheaper to hire an illegal immigrant. Clones are
still a luxury item: a sweat shop full of clones is
never going to produce enough T-shirts to justify the
cost of making the clones in the first place."
Alan wasn't amused. "I want you to go to Extreme
Force HQ with this picture and ask them why they've
got _three_ Extreme clones flying around," he said, in
a manner that made it clear he wasn't just making a
"Can you tell me why you had three Extreme clones
flying around yesterday?" Michael asked The Super
"There's only two clones in that picture. One of
them is the real Extreme."
"So he's back?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"That's what I said."
"Isn't that something you should know."
"If I need to know, I'll find out, but I don't need
"Well, I do. Need to know that is. I want to talk
The Super Soldier sighed.
"Look, you didn't say anything about having all the
clones out in public together."
The Super Soldier grimaced. "One of them got out.
Another one followed him. Then the real Extreme got
"Fine," Michael said, "but I still have some
questions to ask Extreme."
The Super Soldier nodded. "Alright. I expect him
to be here around 12:30. Why don't you go get lunch
"I'm surprised to see you."
"Yeah. I know."
"I saw you disappear after getting hit by Zon's eye
beams. Then Amazing Woman said you'd been sent to the
Twilight Dimension and that you wouldn't be able to
"That's right. Or so it seemed."
"So how did you get back?"
"Ah," he said. "Well, as you know, I was sent to
the Twilight Dimension. There I pretty much kept to
myself. I didn't have much to do with the other
inmates. I don't think any of them recognized me
"Then Zon arrived. Later I found out that it was
because Eliminator had sent him there. Anyway, I was
all set to have a fight with him when he told me that
he knew a way I could get out.
"You see, it turns out that my father didn't want
anyone in his family to be sent to the Twilight
Dimension and not be able to escape so he had it so
that the gates to the Twilight Dimension could
recognize someone from the House of Myk El. All I had
to do was stand at the gate and tell them who I was
and the gate would open.
"But don't worry! I closed the gate behind me!"
Michael smirked. "But not before Zon escaped."
"Well, no. He's pretty quick. But don't worry! He
won't be back! He knows that people here on Earth can
produce clones of me! For all he knows there's an
army of Extreme clones protecting Earth."
Michael sighed. "Are you absolutely sure that
nobody else got out?"
"Absolutely. I didn't see anybody else get out
"Right. And do you know for a fact that you and Zon
are the only survivors from Planet Neon."
"Well, of that, I can't be completely sure, no."
Michael closed his eyes and shook his head. "Zon
won't be back. Not for a while anyway. Because he's
a military man and he knows the value of a strategic
retreat. But if he believes that there could be an
army of Extreme clones here on Earth then the most
logical plan of attack would be for him to come back
with an army of his own."
"Yes. Can I help you?"
Mary Jones nodded. "I'm here to see a patient."
"Colin McKenzie. He was admitted a few days ago."
The receptionist at the Pepperton General Hospital
nodded. "Yes. Room 1201."
"Thank you." Mary walked down to the elevator and
took the elevator to the twelfth floor.
"Detective McKenzie?" she asked, standing over his
Colin McKenzie opened his eyes. "Are you an angel?"
Mary shook her head. "No," she said with a smile.
"You look like an angel."
"Do I know you?"
"No. But I've followed your career. You could say
I was a fan of yours."
Colin tried to sit up but found he was too weak.
"Good. Because I thought I would have remembered
"I'm sure you would have," Mary said. "I'm sure
your mind is as sharp as ever."
"Don't patronize me," Colin said.
"I didn't mean to be patronizing. I'm sorry. I
just meant that you were always the one to figure out
who commited the crime with the least amount of
"Who did you say you were?"
"I didn't. Again, I'm sorry. I'm Detective Mary
Jones from the Pepperton Police."
Colin's eyes widenned. "Am I being charged with
something?" he asked.
"Not at all!" she said with a laugh. "You've always
been a role model for me. You see, I specialize in
"Do you?" he said and then thought back
nostalgically about his own career. "You know, back
then we didn't have all the fancy equipment we did
"No. Not at all." He smiled. "Do you want to know
how I did it? How I got all those people to confess?"
"By asking questions."
He laughed. "I'd always tell them that I wanted
them to help me find the killer. I never told them
they were a suspect. The guilty ones were always so
eager to help me because they just wanted me to get on
my way. But then, just before I left, I would turn to
ask them one more question and I'd notice a worried
look in their eyes. They were worried I suspected
something. That's how I knew who did it."
"But how did you get them to confess?"
"Because they'd always say something. Absolutely
anything. Just to get me off their backs. And
eventually they'd slip up and say something that
couldn't possibly be true. That's when I knew they
were lying. And when they knew that I knew that they
were lying, that was when they'd confess, because they
knew at that point that I'd never stop asking them
"Don't forget this one thing, Mary."
"Never give up!" Just then he started coughing.
"You lay down again, Detective," she said, with
genuine concern. "You need your rest. It was nice to
"Nice meeting you too," he said as he went back to
Just then Mary noticed his doctor standing in the
hallway and she went to speak with him.
"Doctor... is there any hope?"
The doctor shook his head. "I'm afraid not.
There's cancer throughout his lungs. There's no way
he'd survive surgury." He grimaced. "If only he
hadn't smoked cigars all the time."
Mary nodded. "But that was his trademark. That and
the brown trenchcoat. And the small car." She closed
her eyes. "And that's how we'll always remember him."
"Hey! Lady! Ms. Monroe! Look, I know you're in
there! I heard you last night, you and your
boyfriend! Where's my rent, eh? It was due last
week! Okay. We're going to do it the hard way! This
is still my building and I still have a key to your
apartment! You better have something on when I come
"The landlord found the body at around nine o'clock
this morning," Detective John Phelps said. "Apparent
cause of death is asphixiation."
Detective Michael King nodded. "Getting wrapped
from head to toe with plastic will do that," he said.
"From the expression on her face," John said, "I'd
say she was conscious the whole time."
Michael grimaced. "How on Earth did the killer wrap
the plastic around her so quickly that she couldn't
"Maybe she was drugged," Detective Mary Jones
suggested. Just then, her cell phone rang. She
answered it. "Hello? Speaking. Okay. I'll be right
there." She closed her phone. "Sorry, guys, but
there's been a shooting at the airport. I have to
Michael nodded. "That's okay. We'll handle things
John looked down at the body and shook his head
sadly. "Terrible way to go."
"So what do we have here?" Mary asked.
Officer Mark Johnston pointed to the body. It was
still in the position it had been when it was found:
on the floor in front of a row of seats. "Small
caliber entry wounds to the head," he said. "No
"Passport identifies him as John Smith from Mountain
Dew, Pennsylvania," Officer Tom Jackson added.
"How could nobody have seen it happen?" Mary asked.
"I guess people were all too busy doing their own
thing," Tom suggested.
"Or perhaps this was a professional hit," Mark said,
"and the killer did it in such a way that nobody
noticed he was even there."
Mary nodded. "Perhaps. If he was sitting down when
he was shot then it might have seemed as though he had
"Or fallen asleep," Mark suggested.
Mary grimaced. "Alright. There's no reason to
leave the body here. Let's get him to the morgue
ASAP. I'll stick around for a moment and see if I
can't see anything on any of the airport security
"Another body?" Jack Greenspan asked.
"Yeah," Michael said. He and Frank Lopez were
wheeling the body of the asphixiation victim into the
"I'm a bit busy right now with this morning's
"That's okay," Michael said. "We need to get all
this plastic off of her first."
"Why the hell is she wrapped in plastic anyway?"
"That's how she died. She suffocated."
"Yeah?" Edward Bailey said.
"These bullets were taken from our shooting victim
at the airport," Mary told him.
"No. Why would you say that?"
"There's no gun I know that would use bullets this
"We think it was a professional killer. Could it
have been a customized weapon?"
"Hmm. Professional killer. Customized weapon.
Sounds a bit cloak and dagger. Maybe we should bring
in an expert."
"I thought we were experts."
"I mean Feds. The FBI. This is more in their
"Okay. I'll speak to Michael and ask permission to
get them involved."
"Michael, we need some help with a case."
"What kind of help?"
Mary sighed. "I want to contact the FBI and have
them bring in an expert on contract killings. We
think a professional killer was responsible for the
shooting at the airport this morning."
Michael nodded. "We'll have two FBI agents here
Mary's eyes widenned. "That was fast. I hadn't
even made the request yet."
Michael smiled. "I contacted the FBI about the
other case we're working on, the Monroe murder. I
wanted to know if any of them had heard of any other
case in which a person was killed by suffocation in
plastic the way she was. They hadn't. So they're
sending a couple of experts."
"In unusual cases. Apparently they have agents who
seek out this sort of case."
Michael thought for a moment. "Special Agents Lana
Lewis and Oscar Unger."
"Lana Lewis? That name sounds familiar."
Michael nodded. "Yeah. I met her a few weeks ago
in Saint Michael. You know, the town upstate that was
destroyed by Zon."
"So this is going to be a reunion of sorts."
Michael smiled. "It's not like we're old friends."
"So when does the FBI get here?" Mary asked.
"They said they'd be here at nine," Michael told
"So they're late."
"Not too late."
"But still late," Mary said. "Nice tie by the way."
"I always wear a tie in cold weather."
"Uh huh," Mary said with a sly smile.
"They're here." Michael got up from his desk and
went to greet them. "Ms. Lewis, this is Detective
Lana and Mary shook hands. "Nice to meet you Ms.
Jones. I'd like you both to meet Special Agent Oscar
Michael and Oscar shook hands. "I appreciate you
both coming so quickly."
Oscar nodded. "Shall we go take a look at the
evidence you've collected?"
"Lana, Oscar, this is Edward Bailey. Edward, these
are Special Agents Lana Lewis and Oscar Unger from the
Edward nodded. "Nice to meet you. You're just in
time. I seem to have blown this case wide open."
"Have you?" Lana said.
Edward raised his eyebrows. "I have. I managed to
find a fingerprint on the plastic."
Michael was puzzled. "I thought you said you
couldn't find a match for the fingerprint on the
"I couldn't. But then I widenned my scope to
hospitals and clinics."
"Hospitals are keeping records of fingerprints now?"
"Some do," Edward said. "Mental hospitals for
example. People who haven't commited any crimes won't
have police records but some hospitals keep records of
their patients fingerprints in case they do."
"So the killer's a mental patient?" Mary asked.
"Maybe. He's actually listed on the website of a
private clinic owned and operated by a Doctor Carlos
Javier. There's a picture and a name but no details."
"What's the name?" Michael asked.
Michael nodded. "Then we'll have to go speak to
this Doctor Javier and find out what he knows."
Lana smiled. "I guess we weren't needed after all
then," she said.
"Not necessarily," Michael said. "You're welcome to
come with me to speak to this Doctor Javier. Mary has
another case she's working on."
Mary nodded. "Yeah. Mr. Unger, what do you know
about professional killers who use small caliber
weapons at short range? We had somebody killed that
way at the airport yesterday and it looks like a
"Sounds intriguing," Oscar said.
"Oh!" Edward interjected. "One more thing!"
"What is it?" Michael asked.
"The victim in the Mylar case. She's also on
"So, Doctor Javier," Michael said, "you knew both
the killer and the victim."
Carlos Javier nodded sadly. "Martin Mylar had
difficulty accepting his powers. He didn't see the
ability to wrap things in plastic as a gift from God.
He saw the powers as Satan's work and he was convinced
that others like him were evil as well."
"So the victim also had powers?" Lana asked.
Javier nodded. "Monroe had super hearing and X-ray
"So it's hard to imagine Mr. Mylar sneaking up on
her," Michael pointed out.
Javier nodded. "She obviously didn't perceive him
as a threat."
Michael nodded. "We're going to need all your
"All of them?" Javier asked.
"Absolutely," Michael told him. "Any one of your
patients could be his next victim so the more we know
about them the better."
"Alright," Xavier said, "but it will take some
"You could just give us Mr. Mylar's information for
now," Lana suggested.
"Yeah," Michael said, "we'll have somebody come by
this afternoon to pick up the rest of the records."
"I was able to recover this footage from the airport
security cameras," Mary told Oscar. "See? This man
walks past our victim and then, moments later, our
victim collapses. Dead."
"But you can't see his face."
"Right. But we can identify him from what he's
wearing. Now, look at what we have here on another
"Can you get a close up of his face?"
"Yeah. How's that?"
"Can you enhance it?"
"Sure. Does he look familiar?"
"James. Brad James. British Secret Service Agent
"He's a British government agent?" Mary asked.
"What's he doing killing people on American soil?"
"That's what our people are going to have to work
out with their people."
"Work out?" Mary asked incredulously. "What's there
to work out? He's got no right to kill people here!"
"Actually, he does," Oscar pointed out. "He's been
granted presidential authorisation to execute enemies
of democracy anywhere in the world."
"But our victim was John Smith from Mountain Dew,
Virginia. He was no enemy of democracy."
"Apparently he was. We'll need to send all you have
on the victim so the Brits can tell us who he really
was and why James had to kill him."
"I don't believe this," Mary said, appalled. "A man
is dead and you want to investigate the victim."
"It's politics," Oscar explained. "We need to give
them a chance to explain why he was here and what he
"I thought the cold war was over," Mary complained.
"The cold war with the soviets, perhaps, there will
always be work for people like Brad James."
"This is the address in Mylar's file," Lana said.
"Right," Michael said. "We'll have to split up.
You check that room over there and I'll check this
room right here."
"That sounds like a good idea," Mary said, without a
hint of irony.
A few minutes after they had split up, Michael heard
Lana scream. He ran to the other room and found Lana
wrapped in plastic and suffocating. Michael didn't
have a knife so he quickly took a pen out of his
pocket and used it to make a hole in the plastic so
she could breathe.
"He's getting away," she said.
Of course, Mylar must have just been there. Michael
stood up, took out his gun and looked around the room.
"He got past you," Lana said. "Check outside."
Michael ran out of the room and out the front door
of the apartment. There was no sign of him. He went
back to check on Lana.
"He's gone," Michael said.
"That's okay," Lana said. "He's incredibly fast.
He had covered my whole body with plastic before I
even knew he was there. Do you think you could get
this off of me?"
Michael nodded. "I'll go look for a knife."
Naomi Chen looked up from her reception desk and saw
Suri Das standing in front of her. "Can I help you?"
"You have to save the cheerleader."
"I had another vision. A cheerleader. She gets
covered in plastic."
"My God. Please sit down."
"You wanted to talk to me?" John Phelps asked.
Suri Das nodded. "I had another vision. A woman
will get covered in plastic and she will die if we
don't save her."
John nodded. "We had a case like that already. Are
you sure you are seeing the future and not the past."
Suri shook his head. "No. This is a different
woman. I described her to your Mr. Frank Lopez and he
drew this picture of her."
"Oh my God."
"Do you know her?" Suri asked, his eyes widening.
John nodded. "This is a picture of my daughter."
"You never had time for us before!" John's wife
complained. "Now when your daughter's life is in
danger you want to spend time with her!"
"Susan, come on! You know how much responsibility I
have! I'm the head of the precinct! That's not a
strictly nine to five job!"
"If you're so busy then find somebody else to be her
"No," John said, "this case is the precinct's number
one priority right now and I want to handle it
"Oh, I see! So it isn't that you want to spend time
with your daughter at all! You just want to solve the
"Oh God! I want Katherine to be safe! I want all
the Katherines out there to be safe! I don't want a
mad man out there running around killing people!"
"Why can't Katherine just stay home then?"
"Because Suri Das doesn't know when Martin Mylar
will strike. He doesn't even know when it will
"He's a psychic. He had a vision in which Martin
Mylar was killing our daughter."
"A psychic? You're taking orders from psychics now?
When did the freaks take over? Why are the freaks
telling you what to do?"
John grimaced. "Look. He's a genuine psychic.
We've worked with him before. He's the real deal. If
he says our daughter is in danger then I believe him.
He's not telling me what to do."
Susan nodded. "You're using our daughter as bait,
"You're the one putting her in danger so you can
catch this killer!"
"No! Come on! What do you want? Do you want me to
tell you to leave Katherine at home and not go to
school? For how long? Until we catch this guy?"
"Now who's taking orders from psychics? Look, I'll
be there the whole time. I'll make sure nothing
happens to her."
Susan calmed down. "You promise me? Nothing will
happen to her?"
"I promise." John sighed. "And, in case you're
wondering, I could have assigned somebody else to the
case, but I want to make sure that she's okay. Okay?
Plus, like you said, I hardly ever see her."
"You're certainly going to make up for it now."
"I wish it were under better circumstances. Now,
look, I'm going to go with her on the school bus and
sit with her in class all day and then come back with
her on the bus this afternoon."
"Why don't you just take her in your car?"
"Because I want everything to appear normal. If
Martin Mylar is going to try to kill her then, yes, we
do want to draw him out. So if Katherine ahs any
plans to go out tonight I want her to go out as
"He won't attack as long as you are around."
"I'll never be far away. I promise you, we will get
him and she won't be hurt."
"So," John said, "how are your classes?"
"Fine," Katherine said.
"And do you like school?"
John sighed. "Look, Katherine, I'm sorry I haven't
spent a lot of time with you."
"Are you sure? What has your mother said about me?"
Katherine sighed. "Look, Dad, it isn't like that.
I can think for myself." She smiled. "Look, I'm
sorry, I just don't feel like talking. What with
somebody trying to kill me and all."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"You don't have to apologize. It's not your fault."
"Do you have any idea why Martin Mylar would want to
She shrugged her shoulders. "From what you've told
me, he sounds like a total headcase. Why does he need
a reason to kill anybody?"
"Some guys have invited me to hang out with them
after school. Is that okay?"
"If I weren't here, would you go with them?"
"Then do it. That could be when Martin Mylar was
supposed to strike."
"You're a friend of Katherine?" John asked one of
the girls at her school.
"Very good. Katherine told me that her father was a
police detective but he didn't tell me how observant
"So is the father anybody here? I'm just asking as
a father. I don't mean to pry."
"There is no father."
"I'm a lesbian. I'm having a baby with my life
"Oh I see. So you went to a sperm bank and got
"Actually, I'm carrying her clone."
"I'm going to have her clone and raise him while she
goes to college and then when she's finished college
she's going to have my clone and we're going to raise
them together as a family."
"That disturbs you, doesn't it?"
"Because you can't accept the idea of women having
babies without men being involved?"
"Excuse me." John ran towards the sound of his
daughter's scream. He found her alone in an alleyway.
Mylar was nowhere to be found. John dug his
fingernails into the plastic and ripped enough away
from her face that she was able to breathe.
"He got away!" she said.
"It's okay," John said. "You're safe."
"But I thought you wanted to get the killer."
"I just wanted you to be okay."
Mylar had gotten away before the cop could catch him
thanks to his super speed. Suddenly, however, he
found himself unable to move.
Three figures arrived on the scene and stood in
front of him, two men and one woman, all dressed in
everyday clothing so they could blend in with
everybody else. But they weren't like everybody else:
they were different.
"You," he said.
One of the two men, apparently their leader, nodded.
"It's over, Mylar. We're not going to let you kill
us one by one. Jean. Do it."
With Mylar held in place by her partner's power,
Jean viciously struck Mylar with her bolts of
electricity. Mylar's body shook for a few moments and
then his body just went limp.
"Did we have to do that?" the other man in the group
"Yes, Kurt, it was necessary."
"But Javier wanted us to use our powers for good."
"But Javier also knew that our powers could be used
for evil and that those of us who would choose to do
so had to be stopped."
"We'd better get going, Scott," Jean said.
"Absolutely. Kurt, open a portal for us."
Kurt used his ability to bend space and time to open
a portal that would instantly take them elsewhere in
the city. They walked through the portal and it
closed behind them.
When John had gotten his bearings after his
daughter's attempted murder, he called Detective
Michael King and told him to come down right away and
take a look at the crime scene.
"I was talking to one of her friends when she was
attacked," he said apologetically, "so I didn't see
"Same thing happened to me," Michael said. "He's
incredibly fast. It's not your fault. I'm just glad
your daughter's safe."
"Did she tell you why Mylar was after her?"
"What do you mean?"
Michael pursed his lips. "I took a look at Javier's
files. Your daughter was one of his patients."
"Apparently she's a telepath."
John looked at his daughter. "Is this true?"
Katherine nodded. "Please don't tell mom! I don't
want her to think I'm a freak."
John was sympathetic. "I think you need to tell her
yourself. She deserves to know why somebody tried to
kill her daughter."
FBI Special Agent Lana Lewis walked up to them just
then. "I think you're all going to want to take a
look at this."
Special Agent Lewis brought them to another alley.
"Does this body look familar to you?"
"That's him!" Katherine said. "That's the man who
tried to kill me."
"Obviously somebody got to him before we could,"
John looked down at the body. He was a bit
disappointed: he would have liked to have been able to
catch Martin Mylar and have him face justice for what
he did. He stood over the body and bent over.
"You have the right to remain silent," he said.
"Yo, bro, you in the wrong neighbourhood, man."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah. This here neighbourhood is owned by the
Crips. And we know you ain't a Crip 'cause you're not
wearing the right colours." The man's posse all
laughed when he said that.
The intended victim looked around. "Funny. I don't
see a sign that says this neighbourhood belongs to the
"Ha ha ha. Very funny. We don't need no sign.
Everybody here knows this is our neighbourhood. Now
if you don't know then that's too bad. This is one
time when ignorance is not bliss!"
"Oh I see," their would be victim said with a smile.
"So you just say the neighbourhood is yours and
people are supposed to go along with that."
The man sneered. "Are you some kind of retard? We
set the rules around here."
"So you say. But I say I'm setting the rules, okay?
I'm saying that this neighbourhood is mine and not
yours and that you need to get out of here now or face
The man laughed out loud. "Oh yeah? What sort of
Their would be victim took off his trenchcoat to
reveal a spandex costume underneath.
"Hey, man, are you some kind of faggot disco dancer
The spandex clad stranger didn't answer. Instead,
fire shot out from his fingers. His would be attacker
was engulfed in flames. His posse ran off, terrified.
"Heed my words!" he called out to them. "This
neighbourhood from now on is the territory of the
Pepperton Protector! Let evil doers beware!"
"This was done by a guy in spandex?" Detective
Michael King asked.
"That's what the witness said," Detective John
Michael grimaced. "This body is burned beyond
"The witness says it was Jake Lang, leader of the
"The gang that's been causing trouble in this
Michael grimaced. "Maybe this guy did us a favour."
"Hey!" their witness shouted. "Jake was my friend
and this freak took him down in cold blood!"
"I somehow doubt that," John quipped.
"Are you going to do something about this or not?"
"Mike, could I have a word with you?"
"Sure, Alan. What's on your mind?"
Pepperton District Attorney did not look happy.
"Last week Martin Mylar got electrocuted to death and
this week Jake Lang gets burned to death."
"What's your point?"
"This has got to stop."
"You're not suggesting the two cases are related,
are you? Martin Mylar was going around killing
supers. Whoever killed Martin Mylar was probably
acting in self defense."
"Probably isn't good enough."
"Jake Lang wasn't exactly a model citizen either."
Alan Russell shook his head. "Edward Goodhead.
Martin Mylar. Jake Lang. They've all been killed in
vigilantee style homocides. That disturbs me. This
Pepperton Protector didn't wander into that
meighbourhood by accident. He went there looking for
trouble. And I'd be willing to bet that whoever
killed Martin Mylar had been actively hunting him down
out of revenge because he killed Ms. Betsy Monroe."
"What do you want me to do?"
Alan smiled. "You know damn well what you have to
do. The thing about when supers kill is that you can
identify the supers by the powers they use. You know
just about everything about these supers here in
"But I think you know who killed Martin Mylar. You
just haven't gone after them because you've dismissed
the act as having been self defense."
Michael didn't answer.
"We can't think that way, Michael. The lives of
Martin Mylar and Jake Lang have to be considered just
as important as the life of Betsy Monroe. Maybe she
deserved to die too. But did Martin Mylar have the
right to decide that? And does the Pepperton
Protector have the right to decide if Jake Lang
deserves to die?"
"Okay. You've made your point."
"Right then. I want you to find those responsible
for Martin Mylar's death. If it turns out to have
been self defense then fine. But I don't want this
city condoning vigilantee style killings. My God,
Mike, we've been here before with the Roy case."
Michael nodded. "I know. I'll get right on it."
"I hope so."
"You're under arrest for the murder of Jake Lang!"
The Pepperton Protector laughed. "You must be
joking. That was self defense."
Extreme smirked. "I doubt that. I really don't
think he would have hurt you."
"That's not the point!" the Pepperton Protector
scoffed. "Men like that have to be stopped! More
than that, I was teaching those other punks a lesson!
This gang warfare has to stop here and now!"
"You can't end violence by esculating it!" Extreme
"But it will esculate! It will esculate and get
worse and worse until the people of Pepperton -none of
them will feel safe! Unless I stop it!"
Extreme frowned. "How can you be so sure?"
The Pepperton Protector grimaced. "Because I've
seen it! I've seen the future already!"
"He claims to be from the future," Extreme told
Detective Michael King at the Pepperton Police First
Precinct. "He says he came back in time in order to
stop crime back when he could still have an influence,
back before crime exculated out of control."
Michael smirked. "Right. Things are already out of
control when vigilantees kill in cold blood and
authorized law enforcement doesn't do anything about
"So you just let him go?"
Extreme shook his head. "Not exactly. We fought.
We grappled. But he's every bit as strong as me, if
not stronger. And when he had me dazed for a moment,
he flew off and I didn't see where he went. He'll be
much harder to find now because he knows I'm looking
Michael thought for a moment. "You say that the two
of you fought. Did he bleed?"
Michael grimaced. "Still. You might have scraped
off some of his skin. Go to the lab and ask for
Edward. He'll check to see if you have any of his DNA
Extreme's eyes widenned. "That reminds me! He said
he was the son of Scott Grey and Jean Summers. Do
those names mean anything to you."
Michael nodded. "As a matter of fact, they do."
"Thank you for coming down to the station to answer
our questions," Detective Mary Jones told Scott and
"Are we under arrest?" Scott asked.
Mary grimaced. "We want you to tell us what
happened. We just want the truth. It'll be up to the
DA to decide if we should press charges."
"That sounds fair," Jean said.
Scott nodded. "Alright. We tracked Martin Mylar
down. It's true. And we killed him: first I used my
powers over space and time to slow him down and then
Jean used her lightening bolts to kill him. But he
was going to come after us next. He was planning to
kill us all! That's what Doctor Javier told us."
"Doctor Javier called you all and warned you that
Mylar was coming after you?"
"So you, Jean and your friend Kurt went out after
Mylar and you and Jean killed him."
Jean nodded. "That's right. Kurt had nothing to do
with it, really. Not with killing Mylar, I mean."
"Not that we had a choice, really," Scott said.
"The police didn't have a hope of stopping him. They
had their chance."
Mary nodded. "I can sympathize with your point of
view. Really, I can. I mean, with the powers you
have, it's a bit silly for us to tell you to sit back
and wait for Mylar to come after you."
"But I'm still going to have to write this out in
the form of a confession and have each of you sign
"A confession?" Scott asked.
"Scott, it's okay," Jean said. "We did kill
somebody after all."
"Alright. But we didn't have a choice. It was the
only way to stop him!"
Mary nodded. "I'll try to make that clear." She
grimaced. "There's one more thing."
"What?" Scott and Jean both asked.
"There's a man calling himself the Pepperton
Protector. He claims to be from the future."
"Okay," Scott said with a sceptical tone.
"He claims that you are his parents."
"What?" Jean asked. "We don't have children. We're
not even married."
Mary smiled. "I know. Like I said, he claims to be
from the future."
"That's insane!" Scott argued. "He must be nuts!"
Mary nodded. "I know. But there's a chance that we
might be able to recover his DNA. Now, what we'd like
is for each of you to give us a DNA sample and then we
can determine if he really is your son from the
"The results are in!" Edward said as he marched into
Michael's office. Mary was there with Scott and Jean.
"Don't keep us in suspense!" Michael insisted.
"Alright." He turned to see Scott and Jean, whom
Mary had introduced to him earlier. "I guess
congratulations are in order, because DNA confirms
that the Pepperton Protector is your adult son from
"How is this possible?" Scott asked.
"Presumably the ability to travel through time is
one of his powers," Michael speculated. He sighed.
"Of course, the ramifications of this are enormous!
For starters, you now know that you will have a son.
Not only that but you know that he will have powers.
I guess free will goes out the window then."
"What do you mean?" Jean asked.
Michael sighed. "The two of you will have a baby
and he will become the Pepperton Protector and nothing
you can do can prevent that. Because he already
exists. And the future he comes from presumably
Michael shook his head. "The irony of course is
that his being here now means that whatever future is
coming is as much his fault as ours. The future will
happen because it has already happened. But who's to
say that it didn't happen in the first place because
of something he did."
Scott closed his eyes and shook his head. "This is
too deep for me."
Jean seemed to understand a bit better than he did.
"If the Pepperton Protector is our son then he's our
Michael nodded. "That's one way of looking at it,
Jean sighed. "Tell us what you want us to do."
It had started as a typical would be traffic stop
turned car chase. Then the passengers in the back of
the car opened fire with AK47 automatic weapons.
Officers Mark Johnston and Tom Jackson were lucky they
weren't killed when the rain of bullets hit their car,
smashing their windshield and causing their car to
"This is Officer Johnston requesting immediate
Despite the obvious danger, they maintained pursuit
and forced them into a dead end. With their automatic
rifles out of ammunition, the four suspects opened
fire with ordinary handguns. Mark and Tom stayed in
their car awaiting back up.
"We're pinned down!" Tom said as he started to
Just then, the shooting stopped. And the screaming
began. Mark and Tom carefully looked through the
smashed windshield to see the four suspects burning in
flames with the Pepperton Protector flying around
above them. Just as suddenly, a gust of cold wind
blew exhausted the flames that would surely have
killed all four suspects.
Mark thought quickly. "This is Officer Johnston
requesting paramedics. Suspects are down. Repeat,
suspects are down."
The Pepperton Protector looked in the direction from
which the wind had come. "Extreme!"
"This stops," Extreme said. "Now."
"You can't stop me!" the Pepperton Protector said.
"You tried once before."
"He might not be able to stop you!"
"But we can!"
"You!" the Pepperton Protector said. Then tears
started to form in his eyes. "Mom. Dad."
"Extreme is right," Scott said. "This has to stop."
The Pepperton Protector assumed an accusatory tone.
"What are you talking about? You killed Martin Mylar?
What's the difference?"
"What we did was wrong," Jean told him.
"Nonsense! Martin Mylar had to be stopped!"
"Stopping him was the right thing to do," Scott
said, "but killing him was the wrong way to do it."
"If we somehow fail to get you to understand that in
the future... then I'm sorry," Jean said.
Scott used his power over space and time to prevent
the Pepperton Protector from fighting Extreme.
"You'd best go back to your own time," Extreme told
him. "Each of us is responsible for the era in which
we live. Nobody is responsible for the past. You
can't take on that responsibility."
"I can and I will!" the Pepperton Protector
Extreme sighed. "But if you're here now, if you
exist at all, then the future you remember has already
happened. There's no point trying to go back and
change your past. For heaven's sake, go back to your
time and try to fix your future!"
"He's right, son," Scott said.
"Please listen to him!" Jean pleaded.
The Peppern Protector shook his head. "You're just
trying to confuse me."
"If you don't go back to your time, son," Scott
said, "then you will have to face justice here and
now. Is that what you want?"
He nodded. "Go ahead! Kill me then."
"We're not going to do that," Scott said. "It
wouldn't be right."
"It's your call," Extreme said. "Go back to your
time. Don't come back. Leave things to us. If we
screw up, it's not your responsibility. We were given
fair warning after all."
"Please," Jean said, "end this."
"Alright!" the Pepperton Protector said. "Alright.
I'm going." He looked at Scott and Jean. "Mom, Dad,
if I've somehow disappointed you then I'm sorry." He
then closed his eyes, concentrated and disappeared,
presumably returning to his own time.
"And that's what happened," Extreme said back at the
station to Detective Michael King and District
Attorney Alan Russell.
"My God," Alan said.
"So," Michael said, "is there anything else you want
us to do?"
"Hell no!" Alan firmly declared. "There's no way
I'm going to stand in front of a jury and tell that
story! I don't care what evidence you have! Nobody's
going to believe this!"
After the battle with the Pepperton Protector, Scott
and Jean had gone to see their doctor, Doctor Carlos
Javier. Scott wanted to make sure Jean was alright
what with all the excitement of the past two days.
"So," Scott said, "is she alright?"
"Quite alright," Doctor Javier told him.
"But I've been feeling so tired lately," Jean said.
"That is perfectly normal," Javier told her.
"But I don't usually feel so tired."
Javier smiled. "No. Of course not. You feel tired
because of your condition."
"Her condition?" Scott asked. "What do you mean?"
Javier's smile broadened. "I believe
congratulations are in order for you two!"
"I'm happy to tell you, Miss Summers, that you are
one month pregnant!"
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