It was a cloudless night with a waxing moon in Star City. The moonlight shone on the marble statues in Valhalla Park, the memorials honoring the costumed heroes who had fallen in battle. The primary memorials in the park were life-size marble statues of the Flash and Wonder Woman, members of the famed Justice League of America who had given their lives in the cause of justice. Members of the Teen Titans had their own area as well: Dove, Gnarrk, and Aquagirl stood in heroic poses. Supergirl, too, was represented, as were Elasti-Girl, Immortal Man, and others. Two costumed figures crouched among the statuary, keeping as still as the marble memorials. Green Arrow and Black Canary were waiting for something to happen.
“Hell of a place to pick for a drug buy,” Green Arrow whispered. “Disrespectful.”
“Shh, Ollie!” Black Canary hissed. “I think someone’s coming!”
Green Arrow’s sharp eyes pierced the night and saw figures moving near the memorial of Elasti-Girl. He saw two briefcases open as the contents were displayed.
“That’s it,” he confirmed, drawing an arrow from his quiver. “Let’s do it.”
“Ollie — wait!” Black Canary said, pointing at the park wall. “Who is that?”
As Green Arrow and Black Canary watched, a man leaped over the park wall. He wore something shiny, perhaps armor, but it seemed too form-fitting to be that. He began fighting the drug dealers, throwing punches and knocking them around like rag dolls.
“Who could that be?” Black Canary asked. “Some new hero?”
“Could be,” Green Arrow said. “Or maybe a rival trying to eliminate the competition. Let’s go find out!”
As the emerald archer and the blonde bombshell neared the battle, they saw that the man’s suit was indeed armor, a silvery metal that hugged his body like spandex, but was unmistakably metal. Only the lower part of his face was uncovered, his eyes masked by crimson-tinted goggles. The letters MMI were emblazoned over his heart in bright red. He attacked the drug dealers with relish, knocking them down like tenpins. One of them pulled a gun and fired, but the bullet bounced right off his armor.
Two of the drug dealers tried to run away; Green Arrow stopped them with a net-arrow. This drew the attention of the armored man, who looked at Green Arrow and Black Canary for the first time. On seeing them, he smiled.
“Green Arrow and Black Canary!” he cried. “What a surprise! I’ve followed your careers for years; working with you will be an honor!”
“Thanks, but you’ve got the advantage of us,” Black Canary said. “Who are you?”
“My apologies,” the armored man said. “In my surprise, I forgot my manners. I’m called the Futurian. I guess this is my first public outing. I’ve had a couple other cases, but they were out of the public eye.”
“Right,” Green Arrow said, knocking the gun from a recovering felon’s hand with a blunt arrow. “What’s the MMI stand for?”
“That’s Roman numerals for 2001,” the Futurian explained. “The twenty-first century will begin that year, so I’ve chosen it as my symbol.”
“I’ve seen worse,” Green Arrow commented. “So how’d you hear of this drug buy?”
“I have my sources, the same as you, I expect,” the Futurian said, smiling. “I was hoping to net bigger fish than these bully-boys, however.”
“Bigger fish?” Black Canary asked as she subdued the final conscious hood with a judo-throw. “What do you mean?”
“Don’t you know?” Futurian asked. “My sources inform me that this drug buy was masterminded by a super-villain looking to finance a new scheme with the profits.”
“That we didn’t know,” Green Arrow admitted. “So who’s the costume?”
“My sources couldn’t tell me that,” Futurian said. “I was hoping he’d be here. I haven’t had a chance to test my equipment on a genuine super-villain yet!”
“Your chance has come,” a voice boomed from behind the statue of Prince Ra-Man.
“Chronos,” Green Arrow declared as the harlequin-garbed villain stepped out from behind the statue. “Don’t tell me you’ve stooped to drug money? What, wouldn’t your buddies in the Injustice Gang float you a loan? Or the Secret Society of Super-Villains? Or the Crime Champions? How about the NRA? You’ve belonged to every other evil organization.”
“Big talk, archer,” Chronos sneered. “Let’s see how big you talk with your mouth full of sand!”
With that, Chronos produced an hourglass from beneath his cloak and flung it to the ground. It shattered in front of the three heroes and released a whirling cloud of sand. Green Arrow and Black Canary shielded their eyes with their hands; Futurian was protected by his visor.
“Arrow! Canary! Are you all right?” Futurian asked, shouting above the artificial winds.
“We’re fine,” Canary said. “Can you see through this?”
“I’ve got infrared scanners in my visor,” Futurian said. “I can take out the hourglass, stop the sand–”
“Don’t,” Green Arrow said sharply. “If you can see through this, we’ve got an advantage Chronos doesn’t have! Can you see him?”
“Yes, I can make him out just past the cloud of sand,” Futurian said. “He’s maneuvering, aiming some kind of weapon.”
“Well, he can’t see into this sandstorm any better than I can see out of it,” Green Arrow declared. “Where is he, in relation to me?”
“About fifty yards away, position ten o’clock,” Futurian said.
“Thanks,” Green Arrow said. In one fluid motion, the archer drew a blunt arrow, notched it to his bow, drew the string, and fired. The arrow sped through the sandstorm and struck Chronos in the chest, knocking him over.
“Now clear the sand,” Green Arrow said. “Chrony was waiting for us to come out of the cloud, disoriented, so he could pick us off. He never expected an attack from within the cloud.”
“Right,” Futurian said. He aimed a wrist-mounted weapon at the hourglass device and fired. A beam of ruby-colored light stabbed out and vaporized the device; the sandstorm quickly dissipated.
“Uh-oh,” Black Canary said as her vision returned. “Looks like Chronos is cutting his losses! Look!”
The time-thief had thrown off his cloak to reveal a device strapped to his back. The device looked like a large clock, but the hands began spinning like helicopter blades, and Chronos took to the sky.
“I’ll get him,” Green Arrow declared, firing an arrow. Chronos easily dodged it, and it sailed past. “Dang! He’s more maneuverable than I’d thought with that thing!”
“Allow me,” Futurian said, aiming his wrist-mounted device again. This time a projectile of some kind launched from it. Chronos tried to avoid it, but it turned in midair, following him. A few more turns and zig-zags, and the projectile finally struck Chronos’ flying device, wrecking it. The villain fell to the ground, caught at the last moment in a net of glowing light-strands produced by the Futurian.
“Nice work, kid,” Green Arrow said, offering his hand.
“Don’t take offense, Futurian,” Black Canary said. “He calls everybody who hasn’t been in this business ten years kid.”
Futurian shook the offered hand, smiling broadly. “It was an honor to work with you — both of you. I hope we can do it again sometime.”
“Could be. You making Star City your home?” Green Arrow asked.
“No, I’m going to be pretty mobile,” Futurian answered. “I was just in town to stop this drug buy. But I’m sure our paths will cross again!”