Sandman's blinking was hidden by his weird-looking gas mask. That was Red Tornado calling out to him from the shadows, in a voice that sounded...well, Red Tornado was either...funny...or maybe a woman!
"Um...hi," Sandman said awkwardly. "We've met, haven't we? Six months ago when you crashed one of our Justice Society meetings. You know, this couldn't be better timing. Have you ever heard of Mr. X? No? Well, I'm not surprised. He's been hiding behind the scenes of organized crime on the East Coast for a long time. Well, now he's declared war on the Justice Society and I seem to have been left responsible for all of New York while the rest of the Society is off fighting his lieutenants elsewhere. Maybe you could help me?"
If Red Tornado was willing, Sandman rattled off a short list. "I need to contact Dr. Fate in Massachusetts about a Japanese spy/would-be mobster named Mitsuhirato. I need a pair of eyes in prison to keep an eye on who visits the lieutenants we've captured so far. I need an ear on the underworld, listening for any more activity being stirred up by Mr. X. I need someone to find me the radio frequency Mr. X is using to contact his lieutenants." Sandman sighed. "I've got so many plates in the air I can't keep them all spinning! So are you interested?"
Red T adjusts her pot..."yes I crashed your precious Justice Society meeting..maybe even more then one!" giving a quirky smile "I may be intrested in helping to find this Mr.X." she is unsure of this Mr.X, never hearing of him before, she can't help but wonder if Sandman is setting a trap. After thinking for a minute Red T decides to help out Sandman in finding and taking care of this Mr.X. "Sandman, I will help you with this nuisance!" Red T extends her hand, looking for a firm friendly shake. "we work together to save this city from carnage?"
The Sandman chuckled. "Well, nuisance or carnage, which is it?" Then, with more seriousness, he said, "Wait, are you coming with me? Because I really needed someone to split these tasks with, not just to tag along. Do you want to get off this roof and we can talk more about the particulars?"
"I see, this is one of those 'it's man's work' moments?" Joan asked with a sarcastic yet still playful tone. "Fine, I'm busy up here anyways. Give me the address of the nearest Western Union to you," she asked, and Jay looked it up in the phone book.
Jay was late coming back from break because he had waited at the Western Union for his money to arrive. No one seemed to notice; perhaps they had worked him so hard already they didn't expect him to come back.
"Oh...you!" one of the thugs said a few minutes after Jay came back. "Why aren't you mopping?"
It was lucky that Jay was mopping by the manager's closed office door later, as he heard a heated conversation going on on the other side.
"Honest, Mr. X, we killed the Flash! My men can vouch...proof? Umm..."
"Perhaps," the Sandman continues, "you can keep an eye on the prison–See who's coming to visits these lieutenants–while I try to contact Dr. Fate about a plan to lure Mr. X into the open."
He pauses and, despite the gas mask, the Red Tornado can tell that he is considering her outfit. "Unless you've got some high tech radio equipment in there and can contact Dr. Fate while also figuring out how Mr. X is communicating with his henchmen."
You can hear the smile behind the mask. "I assume that is just a pot on your head, but you can never tell. Look at the Flash–he's got a soup bowl on his head."
The conversation in the manager's office quieted down from the intial outburst. Flash leaned in closer for a better listen, but heard nothing else but too-muffled sounds. A few minutes later he was still too close to the door when it flew open and the crooked gym manager almost tripped over the Flash!
"What's the matter with you?" the man asked warily. "Are you a snoop? I think you're mighty suspicious..."
Dr. Fate's spell had ended Magico's invisibility as well. The Punjabi warlock still menaced with the curtain.
The Atom got the drop on his partner, Trug. "Let me guess," the Atom quipped. "You were going to say it's curtains for you, right?" He let Trug have such a powerful right cross that the curtain was knocked out of Trug's hands before the warlock could answer.
Fate has the initiative this turn and can still go before Magico.
"I can go watch the prison, I have to go that way to the Special Fountian of Powers." Fountian of Powers is a small natural spring only known to certain societies.
"id do the detective spy work on the radio but im not familiar with this Mr.X to decode the frequencies." Red T lifts her pot off her head to brush her hair out of her face.
"ok so is there anyone in particular that I should really be alarmed about coming to visit?"
She asks as she's getting anxious to go.
Flash played the part of a dimwit so well it surprised even him. Maybe he'd been hanging out with Johnny Thunder too much!
The manager, whose office door simply read "Mr. Muscles", dismissed his sudden suspicion and ignored the janitor. He went over, instead, to the thug called "Slug" and whispered to him.
He might have an empty stomach (indeed, Jay felt like he might dry heave soon!), but he still had keen ears and Flash overheard, "Send the shrimps home and round up the boys. We gotta' talk about the Flash again."
Soon "Slug" was trying to shoo Flash out of Muscles Gym too!
"Unfortunately, we know very little about Mr. X. We've managed to bust a number of his lieutenants, but most of them have claimed that X was threatening them. I'd watch out for thugs, wizards, and giant lizards. But I doubt that any of them will show up at police headquarters. Also watch out for Germans and Japanese."
"Special Fountain of Powers?" The Sandman wonders aloud as he begins to leave, hoping to contact Dr. Fate on JSA radio before releasing Mitsuhirato. "I guess that's no stranger than the explanations offered by Fate, the Flash, Hawkman or, goodness knows, the Spectre."
"thank you for the information." Red T politely says to Sandman.
She giggles hearing Sandman question The Fountian of Powers. "He don't know." she whispers as she starts heading up to the prison on look out.
Red T wanders up past the Fountian..flowing so gently with a shimmer of light from the moon above. Continuing on, Red T rounds the corner near the prison, to her surprise there are 2 men standing at the entrance, talking, looking ominous. Red T looked on tentatively, trying to lip read in the dim light. "Grrr how am I gonna reach Sandman to inform him?" she whispers to herself. She sees a door just on the other side, if she could make it in there she could get to a radio and try and contact someone.
Slowly Red T makes her way around the building, she removes her pot as not to get noticed by the reflection.
Finally, she makes it to the door..and slips in.
"ok where's the radio?!?!?....ahhh there!" Red T races to it..tries tuning it "sandman..u there? Sandman?.." she continues...waiting for a reply......
"Is this how an honerable man treats his hosts property? You are a poor guest."
Dr. Fate fades into view has he gathers the residue of the failed web and weaves the simple cobwebs into a strong rope of crinson silk. This braid loops gently over Magico and his curtain before tightening painfully.
The Sandman stayed up for hours after he returned home, trying to raise another member of the Justice Society on the new frequency. Just to be on the safe side, he even checked the old frequency to see if any activity was on it, but there was nothing but static.
Of course, it was pre-dawn. The rest of the Society was either asleep or doing more exciting things than checking their radios!
Magico seemed foolishly unprepared for Dr. Fate's sudden attack. The crimson bands fell snuggly down around his arms, binding Magico tight. He dropped the curtain as he struggled and snarled, "Curse you, Dr. Fate!"
The Atom's fist had bruised Trug, but not taken the fight out of him. He produced a curved dagger from inside his shirt and shouted, "I need no spells to handle you!" as he lunged at the Atom.
Since Red Tornado had encountered Sandman in Midtown, she actually was close to the secret resting place of the Fountain of Powers. The moonlight reflected, not on the Fountain of Powers itself, but the ordinary fountain that marked its location.
But she could not tally long there if she was going to make it all the way to the Manhattan House of Detention, or the "Tombs" as it was known. It would have been a 20 minute trip by taxi, but her husband gave her such a pittance of an allowance that she had to improvise travel arrangements and it took twice as long. She hopped rides on the back of passing trucks all the way down 5th Ave., through the Flatiron District and Little Italy.
She did see two suspicious-looking characters skulking about outside the prison. She then crept up to the building and tried to find a way in...but finding an open door or window in a prison at 2 in the morning proved more difficult than she had imagined.
She was still looking for a way in so she could borrow a radio when she was surprised by two guards. They were coming around the side of the building, one shining a flashlight on her and the other holding up a pistol. "Stay where you are! Don't make any sudden moves!" they told her.
The Sandman spends a few hours trying to hail Dr. Fate, or, if that proves impossible the Spectre–oh heck, he'd take Dr. Occult if it came down to it–hoping to get some advice about dealing with Mitsuhirato I am spelling that right, right? Alas my TinTin is not as mighty as many.
Assuming he fails to hail any experts in the mystic arts, the Sandman leaves a note for the DA:
"Let the criminal slip our leash so that we can snare his master!"
That day, Wesley will spend some time with Dian, checking to see if her father has any message for Ol' Gasface.
The next morning, Wesley Dodds was up by nine. By 9:30, he was "working" -- making some calls to his chemical factory manager and accountants to stay on top of things and make sure no one was slacking off. Then Wesley proceeded to...slack off. At least from his professional living. If he had any twinges of conscience, they were soon soothed by the twin notions that he was information gathering for the Sandman and spending quality time with his favorite person, Dian Belmont.
"Goodness!" Dian said when Wesley called at 11. "You're practically becoming a morning person now, Wes! I shall have to give up on ever being taken out to a nightclub again! No, I'm kidding, of course. I'd love to meet you for lunch! Yes, come pick me up and I'll tell you a delightful story about Daddy."
By 11:30, Dian was in Wes' car, telling her story. "Oh, he was positively sore all morning! Grumbling about having to work with that 'rotten Sandman'. And it only got worse when he got a call from the office saying the Sandman had left a note for him about letting Mitsu-what's-his-name out. I think he even cussed once, in my presence!" Dian laughed. "He's going to do it, of c--"
But Wes had to shush her up as he turned up the radio. It had been playing low in the background, but an announcer was coming on with an urgent news bulletin. "Drivers are being asked to stay away from Washington Square on the Lower East Side! The police are reporting multiple traffic accidents occurring now, with no explanation for so many out-of-control cars! This station will share further announcements as more facts become available. And now back to your show..."
It was a risky move for the Flash. The gym had thick windows and he could make out nothing of what was being said within while vibrating to stay invisible. He had to hold still and cup his hand to his ear to make out words -- and just hope that no one looked at the window closely!
But luck was finally with him, as no one did, or at least not yet. And he was able to hear the following:
"Okay, boys," Mr. Muscles said, "that was Mr. X himself on the phone!"
All the thugs paused for a moment of silent respect at the master criminal's name.
"He says if we can produce some evidence that we bumped off the Flash, he'll come here personally to inspect it! So, did any of you boys keep a souvenir off of him? Like maybe that goofy hat of his?"
"Gee, boss, you told us to put him in a sack and dump him, so we did!"
"Then we've gotta find that sack! Get everyone you know to the bay in every boat you can beg, borrow, or steal! We need to dredge the bottom until we find that sack and pull out the Flash!"
For whatever reason -- perhaps he was still sluggish from the spell that had taken hold of his mind -- the Atom left himself wide open and Trug managed to get in a hit with his dagger. The Atom still twisted out of the way enough -- or maybe that it was a superficial wound.
Dr. Fate, though, was infuriated. "Whatever harm you have done to the Atom, you will have given back to you fivefold!" Dr. Fate boomed like an angel of death as flashes of light flew from the eyeholes of his golden helmet, turned into arrows in mid-air, and pierced the flesh of the dagger-wielding warlock.
Trug stumbled back, dropping his dagger, and clutching the back wall of the room for support. Still conscious, but seriously injured.
"You look injured. Here, have a seat!" the Atom said as he picked up a chair and prepared to hurl it at Trug. But Dr. Fate put his arm on the Atom's shoulder and stopped him.
"Hold. Let us see if Trug has the wisdom to surrender," Dr. Fate suggested.
"Please, Dr. Fate, spare me!" Trug squealed. "I will tell you anything -- anything -- you wish to know!"
Magico could only look on in frustration, Dr. Fate's spell compelling him to be unable to speak.
There were other witnesses now too -- the guests from the front room seance, plus more guests observing from the grand staircase who had been in the upper rooms.
"You are wiser than the company you keep. If you would walk the Way it will serve you well to find better companions. First tell these fine people gathered here why you and Magico came here tonight. Tell only the truth. Now is not the time for evasions."
Flash decides he has heard enough, he leaves before his is discovered and heads out to get something to eat! He decides he'll try returning later to search the office, if everyone is out looking for 'the Flash' it should be deserted...
"Well, Dian," Wesley smiles, "That's my cue. If that multiple car pileup with mysterious motivation isn't the sign of some malignant presence, I don't know what is."
Wesley considers his options, "Howabout you get me within five blocks of Washington Square and then I'll do the whole crime busting thing, Dian? I've already brought my gear," Wesley smiles, pointing to a briefcase in the back of the car. "But I know that your father would never forgive me, let alone old Sandy, if I let you get too close to any dire happenings."
"Oh, okay," Dian said, sounding disappointed, "but I want one of your gasguns for my birthday or Christmas this year."
Wes pulled over to a narrow one-way street, hopped into the back seat, and changed into his Sandman outfit and gear.
"Good luck!" Dian said as she scooted over to the driver's seat and pulled away after the Sandman left.
After sprinting two blocks, Sandman could already hear tires squealing and horns honking.
Only when he reached the scene of Washington Square, though, did the seriousness of the situation become evident. Besides cars crashed up on the sides of the road next to the square, there were three cars driving around and around on the grass just south of the Washington Square Arch. One of the drivers had his window rolled down and was shouting, "Help! I can't get out! I'm not doing any of this!" The other drivers appeared to be frantically pounding on their windows.
At the center of the square, inside the ring of circling cars, calmly sat three bearded, bespectacled men in suits, each with a device that looked like a radio in his lap.
Finally flush with cash again, the Flash went to the nearest diner and stuffed himself with food. Flash can now start healing again and goes up to 8 out of 37 hp
Once he was fat and full, he sauntered back to Muscles Gym at normal speed and found it closed. Apparently, as he had thought, the entire gang was out searching for him at the bottom of the bay already. But he still had to decide how he would break in and if he would do it now, while still moderately injured.
"None of this was my idea," Trug protested. "Magico and I have done the seance scam before, usually separately, gleaning information about our dupes with though-reading spells and then pretending it came from the deceased. Once they believe us, it's always been easy to convince them to sign blank checks or something like that. We teamed up for Salem because we knew you were most often seen here, Dr. Fate. I thought that was reason enough to stay away, but Magico here was adamant. And it was all that other partner of his that talked him into it. That -- Mrs. Ross-Cooper!"
"That jibs with what I know," the Atom chimed in. "I was on Magico's trail in New Haven when I overheard him get a phone call about Mr. X. I traced the phone call to Mrs. Ross-Cooper here in Salem. Before I followed Magico, I searched his magic shop and found enough evidence that he was a real magician to want you on this case with me, Fate. I contacted our hotel in New York and left a message for the society hoping you would get it that way, as I didn't have time to wait by the radio all day. I figured you or some of the others would make a scene when you arrived in Salem so it would be easy for me to find you and clue you in, but you kept an awfully low profile. Then I had to stake out this place in the hopes that you'd show up, which you luckily did. But where is Mrs. Ross-Cooper?"
Indeed, the old lady was not amongst the guests watching the scene unfold.
The Sandman saw several avenues to approach the three bearded gentlemen in the center of the Square. Perhaps the most direct route was to sneak up under the Washington Square Arch, then rush the remaining 200+ feet to where the men sat and hope not to get hit by a car. He could also try to slip from tree to tree and get closer first, then have maybe 100 feet or less to charge. Perhaps more ideas would come to him if he just waited.
The gentlemen seemed to be constantly flipping switches and levers on the boxes in their laps, while glancing up every once in awhile to the cars careening madly about them.
At the moment, the men were out of range of his gas gun, though he could hit them with a grenade from one of the closer trees.
Dr. Fate sensed no deception in Trug's surface thoughts. He hesitated from chasing after Mrs. Ross-Cooper. Besides his two captives, there was the injured Atom with his knife wound.
"Naw, don't worry about me," the Atom said as he stripped down Trug's jacket and used it to bind Trug's arms. "It's just a scratch, really! And this is your collar, if you want to go after the last of the criminals. I'll guard the prisoners."
Never one for waiting, the Sandman climbs into a nearby tree and then leaps from one tree to another, getting closer and closer to his targets, the bearded trio.
Once he reaches the tree nearest his opponents he leaps across the street, trying to dodge any of the out of control traffic. Once he is close enough, he will lob a gas grenade at his foes before launching himself at the bewhiskered opponents.
The Sandman made it easily into the first tree closest to the street and was ready to leap to the second when one of the three careening cars came smashing against his tree and shook every branch. The Sandman was already about to leap and the impact threw off his aim, making him miss the next tree and land hard on the sidewalk beneath.
30 out of 35 hp
The Sandman hurt from the fall, but nothing was broken and he could get back up. And he might have to soon, because another one of the careening cars was hurtling down the sidewalk straight for him!
Flash found he could cause a minimum of damage by breaking the window on the back door, reaching through, and unlocking the door from the inside.
The gym was indeed deserted, allowing him to move from room to room. Mr. Muscles' office wasn't even locked.
Looking through the paperwork in the office, Flash quickly found that 'Mr. Muscles' was really one Sam McGuinness, and his gym was as an even bigger scam than the Flash had guessed it was. Members were signed to contracts with no release or refunds, but were promised a cut from any new sign-ups they enlisted. It was all a big pyramid scheme. And there was enough evidence here in the books of it to put Mr. Muscles away for a long time.
There were also regular entries in the ledger to a post office box in New York City that payments were sent to.
And then Flash heard people at the front door to the gym.
Flash is somewhat disappointed that he didn't find any reference to the Atom or Mr X, but at least there's enough evidence here to convict these crooks. He plans to notify the police at the first opportunity.
Then he hears the noise by the front door.
If Flash can get from the office to the back door without being discovered (depending on the layout of the gym, and if the front door is open yet?), he will do so.
If that's impossible, he will quickly find his mop and begin mopping!
"Hmm she has flown. But has she flown far enough?"
Dr. Fate casts his mind back to how she was dressed. He focuses on her clothing and jewelery.
Slowly he lets his magic flow over the image. Letting it seek out that which is unique, old, valuable. If such an object is found Fate releases the magic and follows it along the line connecting the image in his mind and the object in the world.
Casting Detect Object focusing on the most unique thing she was wearing. Will follow the trail if I get a lock. Otherwise will return to Magico ti interrogate him and Trug about their allies whereabouts.
Sandman leapt to the next closest tree just in time to keep from being run over. The grill of the car did hit his leg while it drove past, knocking his shoe off his foot and sending it flying. His leg hurt, but it had not knocked him out of the tree.
down to 27 out of 35 hp
Sandman jumped safely to the last tree closest to where the three men sat and fired a gas grenade. But his injuries threw off his aim. The gas cloud that erupted caught the closest man full-force and he fell out of his seat, asleep almost immediately. The other two men, on the edge of the cloud, were able to spring out of their chairs into the clear with the machines clutched tightly in front of them.
Flash had the advantage of surprise and zipped out the back door before anyone could see he had been there. A moment later, he was at a phone booth informing the police.
"The Flash are ye' now?" said a cop with an Irish accent. "Glory be, but that would be something to see. Shady doings at Muscles Gym, 'ye be saying? Go on, pull the other one. I've no time for crank calls..."
Dr. Fate's spell took hold on Mrs. Ross-Cooper's necklace and gave him a trail to follow. He sensed that she was east of the house now and that the front door was the quickest path to follow her.
Throwing open the front door and rushing out, Dr. Fate almost bumped into a bespectacled man in a blue suit and bowler hat who had been coming up to the door. "Goodness me! No one told me this was a costume party!" the man said as he continued to be in Dr. Fate's way.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fate's spell pointed to a taxi cab that was just pulling away down the street.
Sandman dropped out of the tree and ran into his gas cloud before scooping up the dropped machine. It was big and bulky, but the Sandman was strong and dextrous, so he was able to carry it under one arm as he ran out of the cloud towards the two ones fleeing.
Only they had stopped fleeing about 30' away. They handled their machine-boxes more clumsily now that they were not seated, but they squatted and supported the boxes on their knees so their hands were free to work the controls.
The Sandman heard the first remote-controlled town car hurtling towards him, but it still clipped him as he dodged out of the way. Luckily, he then stumbled out of the way of the second town car, which came so close that it brushed against his coat.
18 hp left and 20' shy of melee at the end of this turn; any change in intention for next turn, or is he charging in and punching still?
"Sure, you do that. Hello? Hello?" the police officer had said over the phone.
By then, Flash -- in full costume -- was in the police station with him.
"Glory be!" the cop exclaimed. "You really are the Flash! Sergeant, we've got the Flash here!"
"What seems to be the trouble?" the sergeant on duty asked. As the Flash explained, the sergeant nodded thoughtfully. "So Muscles Gym is a scam, eh? O'Malley, take some boys and the paddy wagon down to Muscles Gym and round up everyone you can! Flash, would you lead the way?"
Grabbing hold of the green suited man and moving him bodily out of the way Dr. Fate raises a hand and five shimmering spheres fly towards the taxi. The orbs hit the passenger side rear wheel in a perfect pentagon formation. The orbs shatter on impact driving shards of magic and crystal through the tire.