by Hitman 44077
At the Central City International Airport, a well-dressed man with short gray hair and a matching bar-handle mustache headed in the direction of the airport where luggage was kept. He pulled his smoking pipe from his coat and then opened up a package of pipe tobacco. Quickly preparing to smoke, the man topped it off by pulling a match from his coat and striking it with his thumb. With the lit match, he stuck it inside the pipe until it was sufficient. He pulled the match back out and blew it out before taking a puff from his pipe.
Several steps later, he’d reached the luggage retrieval section and waited his turn as others in line presented their tickets to the workers. When his turn was up, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled his ticket. Before he could present his ticket, the worker tending to him spoke.
“Smoking isn’t allowed here, sir,” the worker said, a small amount of nervousness in his voice.
The well-dressed man narrowed his eyes and stared at the airport worker for several seconds, then responded. “I apologize,” the well-dressed man said, his thick accent almost identifying his country of origin. “I will put my pipe out momentarily.”
He presented his ticket, and a few minutes later, the worker returned with a suitcase and a medium-sized cage on wheels, covered by a black sheet held in place by numerous wires.
“Here you go, sir,” the man said as he presented the items to the well-dressed man. As the well-dressed man took hold of his items, the worker approached him and asked, “What’s in the cage?”
The well-dressed man smiled, but there wasn’t anything friendly about it. “My pet. A dog, actually,” he responded. “He’s easily distracted by a large crowd of people and is quiet in the solitude of darkness when we go on trips.”
The worker started to reach toward the black sheet when the well-dressed man spoke again.
“I wouldn’t do that, sir,” he said, somewhat amused by the worker’s action. “There are certain… vaccinations needed to be performed before he will act friendly again. And I wouldn’t want a lawsuit on my hands if you were to get… infected.”
The worker quickly pulled his hand back and said, “Yeah. You’re right about that.”
“Good,” the well-dressed man said with a friendly grin. “I am glad that the matter is settled.”
“Uh, yeah — me, too,” the worker said nervously. “Have a good day.”
“Thank you.” The man placed his suitcase on top of the cage and pushed the cart toward the exit. After exiting the airport itself, the well-dressed man looked around until he saw a van labeled Large Travel Taxis and a man holding a sign which said Mr. Corterov.
“That is I,” the well-dressed man said to the sign-holder. “Mr. Jorman Corterov.”
“Good,” the sign-holder said. “Let me get the back door, and we’ll put this baby inside.”
Once the luggage and cage were secure, the driver and Corterov entered the travel van. The vehicle started and headed out onto the city streets.
“Where to, sir?” the driver asked.
“I have purchased a place at 4371 Bates Street,” Corterov said. “Not located in the heart of the city itself, but close enough, I suppose.”
The van continued its travels.
Aboard the large JLA Satellite that orbited Earth, the hero known as Steel sat in a monitoring chair. He surveyed what he could, even as his thoughts weren’t reflecting the job at hand.
Not exactly a fun time here, but we can’t all be fighting villains, I guess, the young JLAer thought. Still, it’d be nice to be able to have a little more to do in what I’d consider the morning hours.
Suddenly, the satellite’s alarm system went off, jarring Steel from the monitoring chair. “Damn!” he shouted before checking out the alarm and corresponding computers. As he examined the computers, he saw what it was that had signaled the alarm.
That thing’s relatively small, he thought as the computer screen showed an oval-shaped object, but the speed it’s attaining could be deadly! At this rate, it’s going to hit Earth in seconds. But where?
Typing as fast as he could, Steel used the satellite computers to project where it was going to strike. Central City or thereabouts, Steel thought. I better alert Flash.
As events unfolded, the oval-shaped object entered Earth’s atmosphere and picked up speed. Faster and faster it went, whether or not the gravitational pull of the planet had any effect on the object.
Closer and closer the device came to reaching the planet’s surface. Its surface was changing, no longer reflecting the light of stars, but changing into a shade of red. Where it had been assembled in its puzzle-like design seemed to have sections starting to bend, even as circuitry of the device began to spark.
And then — impact. The object hit the surface of the planet within a large forest section close to Central City itself. It skidded and plowed through numerous trees, easily knocking them from the ground, until finally the device slowed to a halt, landing partially in a pond.
The device sat there for minutes, undisturbed, until it began to shake. Portions of the craft began to break apart even as the hull suddenly burst. A cloud of smoke rushed around the object, too thick to see through. But the sound of twigs breaking and leaves crushing indicated that whatever was inside the craft was now outside — free.
Elsewhere in Central City at roughly the same time, the Flash continued his own investigation into the arson, travelling at super-speed and combing through the remains of the Central City National Bank.
There has to be something more here, anything to hint at the identity of the arsonist, Flash thought, clearing away burnt debris from the floors. Not that Angela didn’t do a good enough job with her search — quite the opposite. But from experience, I think it’s safe to assume that–
The Flash’s thoughts were suddenly cut off as he heard a loud crash in the distance. He looked toward the direction from which the noise seemed to emanate.
“My God!” Flash shouted. “What was that?!”
Not even a second later, Flash felt a slight buzz coming from the lightning bolt symbol on his costume. My JLA communicator, he thought as he reached and pressed the insignia on his chest. “Flash here,” he said with a serious tone.
“Flash, it’s Steel,” the voice of the equally serious JLAer replied. “A UFO just crashed right outside Central City’s limits about three to five miles east-southeast from the area — a wooded area. It’s just a little larger than a car with an oval-like shape.”
“I’m on it,” Flash said, exiting the building.
“You want me to call in some of the others to check it out?” Steel asked from the communicator.
“Thanks for asking, but no. If there’s a problem, I’ll let you know. Flash out,” the speedster answered, pushing the symbol again to turn the communicator off.
Immediately, the Flash sped toward the direction from which the noise had come from and entered the forest just outside town. From there he proceeded cautiously, alert and prepared for whatever danger awaited.
I can already tell it’s going to be one of those days, Flash thought, continuing to walk within the forest, if I couldn’t already tell from the phone call last night. I guess it goes with the territory, and the positives far outweigh the negatives.
The Flash continued through the forest and soon located the place where the oval-shaped object had begun its descent. Several trees on either side with a forced gap in-between told the tale, as did the fire and smoke from some of the uprooted trees.
“Holy–!” Flash said aloud, his eyes and facial expression taking in the shock of the scene momentarily. Within a matter of seconds Flash reacted, moving toward each burning tree and, spinning his arms in a fashion to suck the air from the trees, quickly put out the flames. He then continued his search, performing the same trick with every burning tree he came across, until he reached a cloudy area up in front of him.
Another fire? No, I don’t think so. The smoke is a different shade, the Flash thought, using his arms at super-speed to cause the cloud in front of him to dissipate. When that was taken care of, Flash stared at the wreck in front of him.
Good God! he thought, walking toward the pieces of the once-oval-shaped object. Part of it remained intact within the pond, but pieces were scattered all around the vicinity. Flash bent down and picked up a hand-sized piece of wreckage from the pond and examined it.
Such sophisticated technology, even if it’s clearly damaged beyond repair, Flash thought, narrowing his eyes as he looked over the piece. He placed the piece down and stood up. He looked inside what was left and confirmed what he’d already thought. Something was definitely in here — something I still believe is nearby.
The Flash looked to the ground and found what appeared to be footprints. It was hard to tell, since they were shaped much differently than a human footprint, but there was a solid track of them leading away from the wreckage.
There’s no telling what it is, Flash thought as he began to follow the trail. It could be hostile, it could be friendly, it could be in any conceivable mood. I’m prepared for whatever it is.
The Flash continued to walk, following the footprints, until he thought he saw something moving. He then ran toward the object and stopped several feet away from it. What he saw completely floored him.
It was a lanky, almost skeletal, mechanical being standing at a height of nearly seven and a half feet. Its entire being was covered in cracks, much like the puzzle shape of the craft that carried it. Almost as if it sensed him, the creature turned around and seemed to stare at the Scarlet Speedster, as if it recognized him. The confrontation was likewise, even as Flash conclusively identified the creature and called it by name.