"Is there any way to get out of this traffic while still stopping those bearded weirdos?" the Sandman wonders to himself, knowing that, no matter the danger, he has to stop those miscreants from endangering any one else.
He glances around, looking for a way to get off the street while still reaching his foes. If he finds a route he will take it. If he can't, the Sandman will have to continue on his dangerous path. He is a hero after all, no matter what the police and papers think!
"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?"
"They actually think I'm dead right now, and I'd like to keep it that way for a while yet. So try to keep me anonymous for now, although I think the word's likely to spread soon anyway." Flash looks around and the various cops in the station, knowing that they won't be able to keep this info from their kids or wives, and soon the info will get back to Mr X.
The Sandman felt a little disoriented after being smacked by two cars. For a moment he thought he was actually in a street, forgetting that he was in the middle of the park and the remote controlled cars had been driving through the grass or over sidewalks to reach him.
The fastest route to his targets was a straight line to the closest of the two men, a distance that he closed well before the cars could come around again.
"Not in the face! Not in the face!" the man cried cowardly as he raised the machine in his arms to shield his face and block the Sandman's first shot, but the Sandman shifted his stance and gave the man a punch to the gut that made his target double over, drop the machine, and fall to the ground senseless.
The remaining bearded gentleman saw the writing on the wall. "Wait! I surrender!" he shouted. "I am allergic to violence. Here..." and to show the seriousness of his intent, he carefully sat down his machine in the grass.
The taxi cab skidded to a stop. Mrs. Ross-Cooper emerged from the cab with a Derringer in hand, but when she saw Dr. Fate approaching her courage failed her and she turned and ran as fast as her high heels allowed...which wasn't very fast.
"Fantastic," The Sandman says, trying to conceal his injuries. "I hope you are not allergic to metal," he says as he takes out his pair of handcuffs and begins to bind the two men.
"Now, before the police finally get here. You two need to talk: who are you and what were you hoping to accomplish? I'd hate to hit an unarmed man, but you did just hit me with a car, or two." The Sandman glowers.
The uninjured man was the first to answer. "My name is Dr. Pipkin, and these are my colleagues, Dr. Miller and Dr. Koyl. We had invented this remote control device for controlling automobiles at short range. Imagine, being able to start your car before you reach it in a parking lot! Having it warmed up and idling before you get in!
"But we found out too late that our research was being financed by gangsters. We were blackmailed into using our devices here today to set a trap -- for you, Sandman!"
It was a simple matter for Dr. Fate to catch up to and overpower the old lady, so much so that the effort was hardly worth describing. He escorted her roughly back towards the house just as police sirens could be heard approaching.
On hearing Dr. Pipkin's ominous words, the Sandman begins scanning the area for whatever is about to come next. Trying to notice things
"Who was blackmailing you? And how did this person communicate to you? The cops'll be here soon, so you better start rehearsing your explanations. Also: If you just wanted to turn on a car before you got into it, why'd you add all the steering features. Simple solutions first. I think William of Ockham formulated that bit of wisdom"
Dr. Pipkin seemed lost in thought after that. "Yes, of course...the total steering control always made the machine prohibitively expensive and cumbersome. A remote ignition machine we could have fit in a briefcase! How stupid!"
Sandman was about to slap him around or something and get him answering questions when he noticed a red light blinking on each of the three remote control machines that seemed to be ominously blinking faster and faster.
I assume Atom still has the Punjabi purloiners under control and the man in the way is no longer about?
All the crooks are in one of the sitting rooms.
"Atom, the lady carried this gun. Fate hands the derringer to Atom who quickly unloads it. "You have a better grasp on material weapons than I. Could you please search our unwelcome guests for more surprises?"
Dr. Fate addresses the three hoods while Atom works.
"Parlor tricks and simple fraud, you would debase the divine fire so? For money.....Power....Revenge....Or at another's direction? You are pawns in this game. I hunt for the king. Where is he? Who is Mr. X?"
needless to say but detect thoughts is active throughout the questioning. The old don't think of pink elephants ploy. note once police have taken the baddies Fate will clue Atom into the new JSA frequency and ask him to get the word out to the others. Still need to chastise the party guests but that will have to wait till morning. Travel can be exhausting.....
Atom was amusing the guests by slapping the Punjabi purloiners on the backs of their heads and knocking their turbans down over their eyes when Dr. Fate returned.
"Just in case they can still cast spells without their hands, I figured this would mess them up," he said with surprising accuracy for a magical novice. Then he took the gun Dr. Fate handed him and unloaded it.
The man who was in the way was now mixed in with the crowd of guests.
Dr. Fate admonished his prisoners something fierce while the Atom frisked them and came up with nothing else.
Magico gulped. "I once tried to summon a mystic vision of Mr. X so I would know who sends me my orders, but in my vision was a fiery Baalrog demon that told me I could only have the knowledge I sought if I fought it and won...and that it would be waiting for me in the City of Pillars."
"Doctor, I'd love to talk technical details with you, but you need to tell me who was blackmailing you and how. That's your best chance for avoiding the full consequences of your actions. Oh, and you should try to step away from your devices. They're blinking malignantly."
The Sandman tries to kick the devices away from himself and the scientist before they can do any harm.
Sandman kicked away both of the machines and then dove clear just as they, predictably, exploded.
The Sandman rolled to a stop a safe distance away. The scientists...had all remained just a little too close. The two that had been closest to the Sandman, their clothes smoldered and their flesh was burnt. They were unconscious and seriously injured, but spared from the more serious injuries of the one who had been knocked out with gas earlier and been unable to escape the explosion of the machine closest to him. That scientist was on fire, not moving, and either dead or nearly so.
Flash didn't find Muscles right away, but he did find the police, cruising the west roads out of town. One of them turned on its lights and tried to pull the Flash over!
"Flash!" a policeman shouted out his window. "Wait up!"
When he stopped, the police car stopped next to him and the officer explained what they wanted to do. Handing him a walkie-talkie, they figured they could triangulate with him and such more thoroughly.
It paid off. The manhunt only last the next half-hour before Flash spotted the car. Muscles had escaped the dragnet in town, but had been spotted on a country road outside of town and was cut off by a road block up ahead. Muscles, seeing this was the end of the line, got out of his car with a Thompson in his hands.
The Sandman leaps at the burning man, whipping off his cloak, hoping to use it to put out the fires. While doing so, he looks around, looking for ambulances, police, or other people who might be able to save the scientist.
There were police cars and ambulances within sight in the distance, but staying well clear of the park because of the cars going out of control when they got too close to the park. They would need more time to get here on foot, so it was up to the Sandman to save the burning man.
His cloak did the trick, snuffing the flames. The man had second and third degree burns, but would live.
The Sandman stood guard over his prisoners until he saw a policeman and a paramedic enter the park. Then he...
The Flash may not have been back up to full health, but he was back up to full speed. He whizzed right past Mr. Muscles too fast to be seen.
Unfortunately, Flash whizzed past so fast that a gust of wind bowled Muscles over onto the ground, putting his gun out of Flash's reach, while leaving it still in Muscles' hand.
"What was that? The Flash's ghost?" Muscles shouted, panicky, as he opened fire with his sub-machine gun. The weapon chattered as it spilled bullets into the air, but not one of them came within six inches of the scarlet speedster.
"These men need help," the Sandman shouted as he saw the authorities enter the park. "Worry about saving them. They might have information that can end Mr. X's reign of terror. Worry about me second."
Hoping that the cops and paramedics will focus on the wounded, the Sandman tries to gather some of the debris from one of the controllers. "Maybe I'll be able to figure something out. Especially about how Mr. X managed to trigger the explosion," he thinks to himself. Then he tries to slip away.
Content that Muscles is at least wasting ammo and not injuring any cops, Flash waits to see what happens next. If Muscles turns his attention to the police, Flash will make another pass at snatching the gun. He'll do so from a direction away from the police (again, to keep them out of the line of fire).
Sandman was relieved to see the authorities take more of an interest in helping the scientists than trying to capture him. He had just enough time to gather the debris from a control machine, gather it into his singed cape, and run from the scene.
A short while later, after taking a wide route to avoid being followed, he returned to where he had left his car, hopped in, and drove away.
Returning to his mansion later, the Sandman took the debris down to his lab and began a thorough examination... More tomorrow
By mid-afternoon, the Sandman had worked out many of the components of the debris. Though he would not be able to recreate the remote control device easily, he knew what most of the parts were and that they were common enough, easily orderable from the Philco battery company in Philadelphia. Amongst the debris was the remains of a chemical detonator, using mercury fulminate as its primary. It was a simple detonator, one that would have been time-released.
The scientists were never meant to survive the morning; they were just supposed to lure a superhero out into the open and then blow him up.
Unfortunately, there was no clue that said, "Mr. X is here, come find him!". There were only so many companies manufacturing mercury fulminate detonators, but a list of their customers could be huge and it was always possible these detonators were stolen from a mining company instead of purchased legally. A better clue might be, who had access to the machines to insert the detonators?
The Connecticut police were still 50 yards away at their roadblock, using their vehicles as cover from Muscles' chattering Thompson. Muscles must have seen that they were massing up at one end, as if planning to sprint the distance while Flash had Muscles distracted. His sudden burst of gunfire in their direction dissuaded them from that.
But Flash was back on him again, poking him as he whizzed past around and around, or snatching at the gun as if to take it. Muscles fired a few more shots at the Flash, not getting within 7 inches of hitting, before his gun either ran out of ammo or jammed. He shook the weapon in impotent fury, then threw it to the ground.
Mr. Muscles tried in vain to run, but Flash was always right there, circling him, no matter what direction he headed. Finally he gives up, hurls himself to the ground, and starts crying like a baby. "It ain't fair...it ain't fair," he bawls. "I had me a good racket!"
Magico confirmed Dr. Fate's suspicion, that he indeed referred to fabled Iram of the Pillars, lost in the Rub' al-Khali. Somewhere in those 250,000 square miles of desert was the City of Pillars, long-buried under the sands.
But Dr. Fate knew that Iram was not completely lost. Indeed, he had a tome at home in his library, the Atlas of Lost Places, which he believed would tell him where to go.
Discovering little from his investigations, Wesley calls up Dian.
"Dian, how are those three scientists doing? No, I'm fine. I might need to talk to your dad later. Or maybe old Gasface will have to make another visit. Perhaps you could do some preliminary inquiries. Learn out if any of those scientists have talked to the cops and if your Dad or the wonder DA have figured anything out. I'll be over later, if I can."
Flash still didn't have a phone number for Dr. Fate, so he took a two-hour jog down the edge of Long Island Sound back to Manhattan and his apartment, grabbed some more food to eat, and sat down to his radio for a long spell of trying to raise Dr. Fate on the new frequency...
Dr. Fate was naturally eager to head home and check his atlas, but he felt obligated to make sure the police could handle Magico and Trug even though they had the Atom here as well. It seemed that everything was fine; if Magico or Trug had any spells left, they were apparently useless for escaping handcuffs.
"Maybe, I will get some rest," Wesley says and after getting Dian off the phone, he does, taking the chance to get a bit of needed sleep.
After his nap, Wesley spends a few minutes trying to hail the Justice Society on their super secret radio frequency, hoping to exchange information with whoever is out there. And also hoping to run DA Belmont's plan past Dr. Fate.
If he fails to raise anyone, he will head over to the Belmont's, hoping that Dian has saved him some snooping trouble.
Wes got in a nice nap, waking up two hours later not quite as sore as he'd been back up to 19 out of 35 hp. He tried the secret radio frequency, and was rewarded this time with an unusually fast response from Green Lantern!
"I read you, Sandman. Any luck? I've been leaning on a loan shark operation that I think might lead back to Mr. X."
He listened to D.A. Belmont's plan to use Mistuhirato. "I can't speak for Dr. Fate..." Green Lantern began. "In fact, I'm not sure how reliable Dr. Fate is right now. He's been having...issues. But I do think that sounds like a good plan, and frankly a better lead than mine might wind up being."
Dr. Fate wanted to check out his atlas. Indeed, after parting company with the Atom, he returned to his tower planning to do so. But he was tired from a long day and fell asleep in his armchair in the library, with the atlas laying on his stomach.
The next day, he woke up... And that finally puts you back on the same day with Sandman and Flash again!
Yea! Now I just need to figure a way to get 3 people to the other side of the planet without burning my strongest mojo. Given what happened the first time we tangled with a balrog we will need everything we can get.
Fate consults the Atlas before heading for the radio cabinet.
Checking the secret frequency Dr. Fate stumbles across the conversation between the Lantern and the Sandman. Luckily just after the 'issues' comment.
"What lead is that Green Lantern?
I too have what could be a lead or at least an invitation into a trap. X's lieutenant Magico in Salem actually tried to uncover his masters identity. His scrying was blocked by a demon who told Magico that what he sought was in the city of pillars on the Arabian peninsula. The demon invited him to come to Iram and wrest the information from him. Magico wisely chose not to challenge the balrog for the information but perhaps I think we might be able to exploit what Magico uncovered."
"Well, it is a regular Society meeting! I'm glad you chimed in Fate. What do you think about Belmont's plan to cut Mitsuhirato loose and see where he leads us? You know more about Mitsuhirato than the rest of us," The Sandman asks.
"I don't know about magic," the Sandman continues, "but Mr. X seems to have his hands in all sort of weird science too." The Sandman briefly describes his encounter with the automobile-wielding hirsute scientists and then continues: "So it might be worthwhile to talk to some of these guys and see what else they might know. All of Mr. X's minions seem to be blackmailed buffoons, so who knows?"
Eventually, Green Lantern tried to sum up what everyone had been discussing. "Okay, as I see it, we've got basically four leads we know of. The least likely is this 'Mr. Muscles' Flash captured. The second least likely is the loan shark gang I've been following.
"I think our two best plans are to use Mitsuhirato as a lure to draw out Mr. X or at least more of his lieutenants, or to go straight to this demon monster and beat it up until it tells us all it knows. The first of those two options is least risky, but could take the longest. The second is far riskier...but if we got the Spectre to help us out, I think we'd have enough magic to send three people to this City of Pillars, no matter where it's at."
"Trying to draw out his lieutenants isn't getting us anywhere very fast so far... I say we try to subdue the demon."
"Are you sure about that Flash? Remember we faced this demon before. It is strong, nearly as fast as you, and highly resistant to my magic. Last time it left of it's own accord. This time it may well fight to the end. Unless we can find a way to free it from X's influence."
What does Fate know about binding balrogs and how to free them?
"All this talk of demons," Green Lantern chimed in again, "--didn't I hear something about Hourman meeting someone recently who claimed to be talking to demons on the telephone? Is that something we could use?"