by Hitman 44077
The television screen lit up as the early morning news was interrupted by breaking news. From there, a familiar reporter with Asian features and long black hair standing outside Central City Police Headquarters began her report.
“This is Linda Park, Channel 8 News. The ongoing arson threat against the city now appears to be over. An unidentified source within the Central City Police Department contacted Channel 8 earlier with the tip that the notorious Firefist had been apprehended by Central City’s own crime-fighter, the Flash, after another night of terror which included at least one confirmed attack against the city. Firefist, whose actions resulted in the destruction of the Central City National Bank, as well as a disturbing attack on the city’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and subsequent arson the same night of a nearly abandoned building within the Bettner section of the city, earlier last night launched his most brazen attack yet against Central City’s United Fuel Industries — an attack that left several of the city’s finest as well as several members of the National Guard dead. We’re waiting at this time for acting captain of the local precinct, Detective Frank Curtis, to give us the official word regarding the capture of Firefist. As with any breaking news, we’ll be here to bring you the latest. Now back to you in the studio, Dominic and Alexa.”
“Thanks, Linda,” the older anchor replied as the television was turned off.
Sitting in his hospital bed at Central City Memorial Hospital was Darryl Frye, with a remote control in his hand. Before he could react, a voice called out to him by the door of his hospital room.
“Looks like word got out sooner than I thought it would,” the familiar voice said. “You in the mood for company?”
Darryl looked over to see Wally West standing by the door and, with a welcome smile, replied, “Come on in, my friend.”
Wally walked into the room, pulled up a chair, and sat down next to Darryl’s hospital bed. The two shook hands, and Wally began speaking. “I wanted to personally let you know that Firefist is in a jail cell as we speak. And I’m sure you’ll be as relieved as I am that Mick Rory was not behind the mask.”
Darryl nodded in agreement and said, “That’s very good to know. I would hate to see someone like Mick turn back to the dark path. But who was Firefist? And why use the fire motif?”
Wally responded calmly, “He’s someone from Mick’s past. He said his name was Lyle Byrnes, but there’s no telling if he’s lying about that. He had something of Mick’s, though, that leads me to believe him — a set of dog tags.”
Darryl’s facial expression was one of confusion. “Dog tags? I didn’t know Mick was involved in service to our country.”
Wally agreed. “Same here, Darryl. Byrnes, who we’re awaiting word on whether or not he’s who he says he is, claims that he and Mick served together — were in a special division of the armed forces. We’re also awaiting word on the identity on who Lyle claimed he lived the past eleven or twelve years as — a research scientist named Stewart Lennington.”
“People like this guy and Mota — they’re fueled by the rage of the past, just as dangerous as anyone who follows suit,” Darryl conceded.
“You got that right,” Wally said before continuing. “I took a look at the location that Byrnes stated was his hideout with several officers. It’s shouldn’t come as a surprise, but he’d planted a bomb to go off in case the door was opened. I dealt with the bomb like I did the others tonight–“
“Huh?” Darryl asked aloud. “I thought the attack tonight involved UFI.”
Wally narrowed his eyes and shook his head slowly. “Not quite, Darryl. He planned to use the attack on UFI as a diversion to his real attacks — attacks against the various CCFD stations within the city. He figured by destroying them, he could then singlehandedly burn the city to the ground. I’m sure he had other targets in mind, since the attacks seemed to be aimed at destroying Mick’s reputation, first by the murder of Edward Hobart, dressed in a Heat Wave costume, and second by the dog tags Byrnes was going to plant within the main fire station.”
“Then, if his intent was to destroy Mick’s reputation, Firefist would have gone after the CCPD, other banks within the city, and no doubt the hospital and City Hall itself,” Darryl said in the most serious of tones. “Thank God you stopped him.”
“He definitely had an agenda. I think his attack on National was twofold — to screw with the people who had money inside the bank and to possibly anger some of the Rogues who’d tried robbing the bank in the past. By making them think Heat Wave was behind the attacks, then you’d have a Captain Cold or a Trickster looking for revenge,” Wally replied, “against the wrong man.”
“Makes sense to me,” Darryl said before turning back to the discussion he’d interrupted. “Now, about Byrnes’ hideout…”
“That’s right!” Wally said, just realizing how they got off-track. “This guy, from what was discovered, had a small lab within his hideout. Varying amounts of explosives, small robot-like devices — possibly to operate vehicles — tanks of what I believe is his fuel that’s extremely hard to extinguish, and even some rubber molds to use to create flesh-like masks to disguise himself. That’s presumably what he used to hide the scars on his face when he planted the bombs before the parade and those he planted at UFI earlier yesterday.”
“Looks like the CCPD have everything well in hand,” Darryl said with confidence.
“Pretty much. Right now, Dean Burke is at the scene with the other officers, checking matters out for the lab. Personally, I thought third was Angela’s shift, but she might be sick,” Wally said. “Still, there should be no problems tying what was found in Byrnes’ hideout to the chemicals I cleaned up at both fire stations earlier with my super-speed. Maybe it’s premature, but I’d say case closed.”
“With that maniac behind bars, I’d say that’s an accurate call, Wally,” Darryl said with pride.
There was an awkward silence before Wally spoke again. Slowly, the twenty-something hero asked Darryl a question. “How have things been for you? I haven’t been in to visit you as much as I’d like, but you look like you’re doing all right.”
Darryl sensed the trouble in the young man’s voice, and it resonated with the issues he’d been pushing aside for the last few weeks. “I’m doing well. My bones are healing, and they’re going to start with rehabilitation probably within a month. They say there shouldn’t be any problems with me walking, but it’s going to take quite some time before I’m cleared to return to my duties as captain.”
“I’m really glad you’re going to be OK, Darryl, and I’m looking forward to you returning to the force,” Wally said with relief.
Darryl paused a few seconds as a serious look formed on his face. “I — I might not be returning to the force, Wally,” he said with resignation.
Now Wally was the one wearing a confused look on his face. “What?” the red-haired man said, disbelieving. “Of course you’ll be back!”
“Wally, word’s gotten out that they’re looking to bring in someone while I rehab. I understand that fully, but I also understand when something like this happens, odds are that the higher-ups will want to continue the direction being set by their hand-picked choice,” Darryl said cautiously.
“They wouldn’t do that to you,” Wally said, though Darryl raised some interesting points. “You’ve been there too long for them to simply replace you.”
“That’s another reason that this change could become permanent. I’ve been there for quite a number of years, and they may feel a change will be good for the force as a whole. Right now, having a capable and competent police captain in my precinct is the force’s prime concern, and I agree with them,” Darryl said. “And if they deem the change is to be permanent, then I’ll face it like I’ve faced everything in my life up to this point: head-on.”
“I’d hate for that to happen, Darryl,” Wally confessed. “I can’t picture anyone replacing you.”
“I know, Wally, but if or when the announcement comes, I’m asking you to give this person undying support. It’s not going to be easy stepping into this environment,” Darryl asked of the young hero.
“I will, Darryl — for you, the force, and the city,” Wally responded strongly, reaching his hand out once more to his friend, who responded by grasping his hand. The two shook hands, knowing that while things could possibly change in each of their lives, the one thing that wouldn’t was their friendship.
As morning began unfolding in Central City, Angela Margolin woke up in the guest bedroom she’d been sleeping in the night before at Patty Spivot’s house.
I have to say that was probably the best sleep I’ve had in months, she thought with relief, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. I really feel like a new woman.
After getting dressed, Angela walked into the kitchen of Patty’s home, where Patty was finishing cooking some toast. Seeing her friend, Patty approached her and said, “Hey, Angie, good to see you up. How was your rest?”
Angela replied with a pleasant smile. “Let’s just say I feel better than I have in quite some time, Patty. It’s nice to actually wake up and feel good, compared to what’s happened the last few months.”
“That’s great to hear!” Patty exclaimed, feeling good for her friend. “I’m happy for you.”
“I’m still going to do what we talked about last night, Patty. And once this is finished, I’ll be able to forget about the past. There’s just one problem,” Angela said, a hint of doubt creeping into her voice.
Patty noticed this and asked Angela, “What’s that?”
“With what happened last night, I don’t believe Paul and I could co-exist on the force. Sure, we’re in different departments, but I don’t want him to drag my name through the mud out of spite. I’ve tried to show my character through my work, and I think I’ve succeeded, but so has Paul. He’s a very good detective. I don’t want to leave the CCPD, and I know Paul won’t, but I’m not sure what options I’ll have before this is done,” Angela admitted solemnly.
“Well after last night,” Patty began, handing Angela a plate with two pieces of toast and a glass of orange juice, “both of you will be back to your usual shifts.”
“What do you mean?” Angela asked as she took a sip from the glass before momentarily changing conversation briefly. “Thanks for breakfast, by the way.”
“No problem,” Patty said before turning back to the question Angela had asked. “Wally caught Firefist, so it looks like the arson crimes are officially over.”
“That’s great!” Angela said happily before her face changed, reflecting a thought that had just dawned on her. “Oh, shoot! I was supposed to be at the lab! I’m in a lot of trouble–“
“No, you’re not, Angie. Frank called me, and without going into any personal issues, I let him know you were here. I didn’t say anything about the problems with Paul, and Dean agreed to take care of the crime scene until I came in. So everything’s good,” Patty reassured Angela.
Relieved, Angela responded, “Thank you, Patty. Another one I owe you.”
“Don’t worry about it, Angie,” Patty said as she heard the doorbell ring. “Now that’s odd. Someone over this early?”
Angela’s face suddenly grew fearful as her own thoughts began to focus on who was at the door. “Oh, no — I bet it’s Paul!” she exclaimed. “I can’t deal with this right now!”
Patty saw how petrified Angela was and tried reassuring her. “Angie, if it’s Paul, I’ll cover for you. Don’t worry, all right?”
Angela nodded her head slowly as Patty headed toward the front door of her house. That animal better not be here — not after what he’s done, Patty thought as she reached over to open the window shade next to her door. Standing outside was Detective John Flint and two police officers. That’s odd, Patty thought as she unlocked the front door and opened it.
“John, what’s going on?” Patty asked, confused.
“Patty, I don’t know how to ask this, but is Angela here?” John cautiously asked.
Patty replied, “Yes. Why, John?”
John paused, his demeanor speaking volumes. “I need to stress that I don’t want to be here, Patty. Just… just bring her to the door,” he finally said.
Patty walked back toward the kitchen where Angela waited. “Angie,” Patty said, “John Flint’s at the door. He wants to talk to you.”
Angela’s face was one of confusion, but she complied. Together, the two women walked to the front door and stopped in front of John.
John was visibly uncomfortable but addressed Angela. “Angela, did you and Paul have a fight last night?”
Angela paused, not knowing how John could know, but finally she answered, “Yes.”
John shook his head, knowing what he was obligated to do as an officer of the law, but also having doubts of his own in this regard. “Angela, I’m placing you under arrest. I’m sorry.”
“What?!” Angela shouted in shock as Patty placed her hands over her mouth in surprise. “Why?!“
“I don’t want to do this, but I haven’t an option,” John said, with a little force in his voice.
Angela stared at John before finally turning toward the officers nearby. John then advised Angela of her Miranda rights before placing her in the care of the two uniformed officers with him.
Patty stopped John from leaving and angrily yelled at him, “John, what the hell is going on here?! Angela hasn’t done anything wrong!“
John addressed Patty civilly, though there was sympathy in his voice. “Patty, Paul Margolin has several broken fingers. He’s also got a few cigarette burns in his hand. He saw a doctor who examined his hand last night.”
Patty glared at John. “Patty’s been through hell with Paul for the last few months. Didn’t you see the cast on her arm, or the bruise on her face?!“
John responded, this time with more feeling, “Yes, I did. I didn’t place handcuffs on her, you noticed. Not that they would have fit with the cast in the way, but I want to get her side of this.”
“Then why arrest her?!” Patty demanded.
“Because Paul filed the charges, Patty. Believe me, I didn’t want to do this, but with charges like these, I had no choice,” John said with remorse. “It’s the law, and I can’t ignore the law. I only enforce it.”
“Paul has hurt Angie both physically and mentally for some time, and yet, when she finally manages to escape him, she gets arrested for it?” Patty asked incredulously.
“I don’t know what to say, Patty. I identify with Angie, but she never pressed charges herself. That’s something already going against her. And stealing Paul’s gun, which we recovered from her car just outside your home, is another black mark,” John admitted. “But I assure you, I will get to the bottom of this. Paul’s rubbed me the wrong way several times, and if I can find something that will clear Angie, I will.”
“Angie’s lost so much — she doesn’t deserve to lose her career, too,” Patty said sadly.
“I know,” was all John could say.
The squad car that Angela Margolin was placed in drove off, even as Paul Margolin watched nearby in his own car. The look on his face was one of both pleasure and bitterness, and the thoughts within his head reflected the look on his face.
I told you you’d pay, you cow. You want to make me look like a fool? Just wait, Angie — when I’m finished, you’ll be begging to come back to me. No one plays games with Paul Margolin — not you or anyone!