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FALLOUT AND SELL-OUTS
by Marc Singer

Peter Valdikoff was having a bad day. First he heard that his employer, the Dynamax Corporation, was dissecting Omegas in some prison in Georgia. Then, before the scandal could fully hit, a bunch of crazy Omegas started rampaging through Dynamax Detroit, presumably in retaliation. Peter liked to think he was a brave man, but he didn't stick around to defend his bosses, especially since the charges of vivisection might have been true. He just ran.

He ran clear off the compound, and then he drove out onto the interstate, and right after that he saw the whole damn complex blow up. And Peter Valdikoff realized he was out of a job. Unemployed, and with the stain of Dynamax to keep him from ever getting hired again.

He tried to keep up a brave face in front of his children, but he cried himself to sleep in his wife's arms that night. And in his dreams, he saw the faces of all his friends and coworkers who died in the blast. Then he saw the blast itself, as real as in life. Only this time Peter was much closer, and the blast seared him and tore him apart while his soul screamed...

Peter woke up screaming. Later, after Anya coaxed him back to sleep, he dreamed of the explosion again.

And again.

And again....


Anne Benson had been like a new woman since her return from the Colony. Maybe it was her desire to get back into the rush of life after a long period of inaction; maybe it was her desire to forget the rush of violence, some of it her own, that had accompanied her return to action. Maybe it was her desire to do something for her fellow Omegas now that the Colony was disbanded, or to prevent the bloodshed that the Colony and its leaders had descended into. Maybe it was her desire not to end up obsessed like Danny, or dead like Warren. Harvey couldn't tell. He just knew that his granddaughter was a lot more motivated than she'd been in a while.

For one thing, she was looking for an apartment of her own again. She, unlike Harvey, had gotten tired of living in the Benson family house. Never mind that she still didn't have a regular job or source of income—being an Omega was hard work, but it didn't carry a paycheck. Not unless you sold your services out to somebody like the government. Or the Dynamax Corporation.

"Did you find a place?" Harvey asked, discarding the disappointing OVERMAN comic in his hands. "You seem awfully chipper."

"'Chipper.'" Anne smiled. "Now there's something nobody but you would say. Well, maybe Covenant would say it, but he'd be ironic. No," she said, finally answering his question, "I didn't find a place. Not for me, anyway."

"Not for you?"

Anne sat down on the couch next to Harvey. "You remember that idea I had? Well, I'm going to do it. I'm going to set up an organization for Omegas." Harvey groaned, but Anne wouldn't let him interrupt so he could discourage her. "Grandpa, it's needed now more than ever. Mirry tells me that a lot of the Colony refugees are having a hard time fitting back in to society. Especially the kids. This place could be a kind of halfway house—"

"Anne," Harvey said, "we talked about this before. It takes a lot of money to set up those things, and you don't have it."

"We can get donations," she countered. "Hey, there's a whole cult to Tempest. Surely some people will cough up some cash."

"Not enough to run a place like that." Harvey wasn't really that opposed to the idea, but for some reason he didn't like the drift of this conversation, and wanted to shut it down as soon as possible.

"Reed Graves and the AFD will both lobby for government funding," Anne said. "Hell, you know Graves will do anything to get his picture in the papers with me. And he has a whole network of contributors."

"Have you seen our government, lately, Annie? Shelters aren't high on its priority—you'd get more funding if you called it a prison."

"Well," Anne said, donning a smile that chilled Harvey to his marrow, "I did think of one more way to get money." Her eyes drifted down to the comic lying forgotten on the floor. Forgotten by Harvey, but not Anne....

"No," Harvey said. "No way. I am not working with those people. They ruined a great bunch of heroes. Forget about it."

Anne batted her eyes and said, "Do it for the children, grandpa."


Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Overman, fighting crime while secretly posing as...
Harvey Hauptmann?
That's right, his identity has been revealed and he's not mild- mannered reporter Calvin King. Harvey Hauptmann, the celebrated senior Omega, confirmed persistent rumors that he was the inspiration for Overman at a press conference in the offices of National Periodical Comics yesterday afternoon. Also attending the press conference was Jerome "Jerry" Siegel, one of the creators of Overman, and Mark Carling, editor of NP Comics' group of Overman titles.
Siegel, who wrote the very first Overman story in ACTION COMICS #1 way back in 1938, confirmed that he was inspired to create Overman after Hauptmann saved his life in 1934. Siegel was nearly run down by a car driven by a local gangster, an incident which crept into that first Overman story. Hauptmann stopped the car and saved Siegel, beginning a career of helping people which he continued sixty years later.
Carling also announced that Hauptmann was officially endorsing the Overman comic books, and would be appearing in print advertisments for the comics. He is not licensing his name or image to NP Comics, however. Hauptmann received an "authentic Overman costume" for his endorsement. Neither he nor Carling would disclose whether there was any financial compensation.
The Washington Post, Feb. 15, 1995


Harvey was standing off to one side at NP Comics's post-press conference reception, trying not to be noticed. It was a losing prospect: he was squeezed uncomfortably into an old suit that was nearly twenty years out of date, he towered above everyone else in the room, and he was the center of attention. Reporters and company men kept asking him for details of his exploits as Overman, and Harvey had to think of something, anything, other than the truth. He figured that tales of war and slaughter and Buchenwald would sort of ruin the mood.

So Harvey was cornered by admirers, trying to eat little sausages- on-sticks while embellishing his battle with Deathbringer, when he saw his old buddy Jerry slinking out of the reception. Harvey said, "Excuse me," and pushed through the crowd—and they moved. Harvey almost liked the sense of awe he now inspired in these people.

But before he could catch up to Jerry, Carling stepped in his path. "Harvey," he gushed, projecting friendliness in a way that could only be described as 'oozing.' "You did wonderfully at the press conference. Will you at least think about letting us do a comic of your real-life adventures?"

Images of the horror at Buchenwald, reduced to two dimensions and four colors, flooded Harvey's mind. "Sorry," he said, "I'm not really interested in being a comic book character. There is one thing you can do for me, though."

"Anything! Just name it." Carling was jogging along to keep up with Harvey.

"I'd like to speak to that Don Jorgenson guy of yours," Harvey said, flexing his muscles. "He's the guy who killed off the Superior Citizens of America in TIME BOMB, right?" Harvey gave his arms an extra flex.

"That's the one!" Carling said. "I'll set up a meeting right away." As they walked out of the reception, Carling puffed out his chest and said, "You know, Harvey—may I call you Harvey?—killing the SCA was partly my idea."

Harvey's eyebrows rose. "Reeeaaaallly?" he said. "Well, you'll have to come to this little meeting, too."

"I can't wait!" Carling said.

"Oh," said Harvey, "neither can I." He grinned. And cracked his knuckles.

Harvey caught up to Jerry in the elevator. The two had hardly spoken at all during the press conference, and Harvey was eager to talk to somebody he'd known—if only barely—in his old Cleveland days. "Jerry," he said, "what's the rush?"

Jerry feigned a weak smile, and said, "Ah, I never stick around at these things too long. They don't really want me here, and I don't want to be here."

"To tell the truth, I don't really want to be here either. How about we find some diner and talk about old times, eh?"

The elevator doors opened, and Jerry stepped out into the lobby. "I don't know, Harvey," he said. "You saved my life and you started my career, and I thank you for that. But... now you're working for the same people who ripped me off."

Harvey followed Jerry out through the lobby, noticing that a strange young man was getting up from his seat and following them. "Working for them? Jerry, I just got one check for endorsing their comics... it's for a good cause...!"

"Yeah, like helping them rip off today's creators." The young man had caught up to them, and pulled something out of a bag. Harvey spun between the man and Jerry, half-expecting to intercept a bullet, but instead he got a comic book handed to him.

The man waved it, and Harvey took it. "'The Maximum-Man,'" he said, reading the cover, "by 'Vic Retch'? Is that your real name?"

"That's the real scoop," said the young man, "on how NP Comics stole Overman from this guy and Joe Shuster."

Jerry grabbed his head and said, "Not this guy again."

"Stole Overman?" Harvey asked. He remembered hearing something about this back in the seventies, when the first Overman movie was coming out. "But Overman is me."

"Then I guess NP owns you dead to rights," said the young man, grinning wickedly. "Especially now that you're pulling paychecks from them, right?"

Jerry fastened his coat and said, "I told you, Retch, I can't talk to you about this. Harvey... maybe I'll see you around. Be careful who you work for." With that, he stepped out into the cold New York street and hailed a cab.

Retch stepped in front of the door before Harvey could follow. "Read the book, Mr. Hauptmann. I didn't get hit with a gag rule the way he and Shuster did. That tells the whole story of how NP treated your friends... Overman's creators."

Harvey blushed. "I'm only doing this so my grand-daughter can start up a shelter...."

Retch started unbuttoning his shirt, to reveal a t-shirt with an emblem on it underneath. It reminded Harvey of Cal King turning into Overman. "Yeah, well, we all know where the road of good intentions leads, don't we, Mr. Hauptmann?" He revealed the t-shirt: it had a stylized skull, and the logo HELL KINGDOM.


Thomas Morgan rolled into Detroit like a cloud full of troubles. A pretty lady had hired him to quietly solve a little problem for her; and when anybody in the Big City had a sticky situation that needed solving, they came to Morgan. He was a soft-spoken man who let his fists do the talking, and he always had a cigarette in his mouth even though he never smoked it. The few people who called him friend never knew if he was the most cynical man alive, or the most idealistic, and they were all too afraid to ask. They just steered well clear of him... unless they were a dame, that is...

At least, that was how Thomas Morgan liked to think of himself. To be fair, he had good reason to be romantic about his new job; after being tapped and performing well on the Brazil job, the lady upstairs had decided to send him on a solo mission. A solo mission, for someone as new as he was. It was unheard of.

But, of course, it was only because he was the only person with the talents for this particular job. People in Detroit had been calling in sick lately, staying in bed all day, and having strange nightmares—the same nightmares. Every single one of them woke up screaming after dreaming of a huge explosion. In a few weeks, some of the weaker ones might not be waking up at all.

The pop shrinks said it was a mass anxiety over the Dynamax bombing. The facility's destruction had sent the poor surrounding neighborhoods careening into unemployment and despair, after all.

But Morgan knew better. Mass anxiety doesn't make a hundred people bedridden in the same way at the same time. Especially when they all live in the same six-block radius. So while his fellow agents tried to sneak into Dynamax and sift through its charred, fused remains, Thomas Morgan took off his trenchcoat, lay down on his bed, and went to work.


As soon as he got back from New York, Harvey presented a check of his own to Anne. It contained all the money from NP Comics for his endorsement, and a little extra from his personal savings. Over Anne's objections, Harvey explained that she needed to get her own apartment again, and that she could use his money a lot more than he could. "Think of it as my way of thanking you for spending six months of your life on the run with me," he'd said, and if that didn't actually make up for everything he'd dragged his granddaughter into, at least it got her to take the check.

All in all, Harvey was pretty pleased with himself for helping Anne fulfill her new dream. So while she spent the next few weeks setting up her apartment and her "Omega House," he felt it was time to sit back and read some comics.

Harvey had been given a pile of the past year's Overman comics during his visit to the NP offices, but other than a few Overboys, they were mostly very boring. Just Overman fighting one mindless villain after another, mostly scaled-down oldies like the Doppelgangster or Leo Luxor, now shadows of what they were in the sixties. Harvey thought they were all pretty depressing.

By far, the most interesting comic he'd gotten from the trip was the one that Vic Retch kid had handed to him. And it was also the most infuriating one. "The Maximum-Man" was nothing but a weak parody of Overman, and Harvey had little respect for anyone who was such a thinly-disguised ripoff of America's greatest hero.

But even worse, the comic was disgusting. It was filled with profanity, sex, nudity, and excretion. Lots and lots of excretion. The writer had a sick fascination with that one little human process, and just kept bringing it up over and over again.

There was a time when people wouldn't even acknowledge that their characters used the bathroom, Harvey thought as he tucked the comic under his arm, stood up, and flushed the toilet. And now it's come to this? Harvey didn't mind realism in his heroes, but he firmly believed that realism should stop at the bathroom door. And with that, Harvey finished washing his hands (struggling to keep the comic dry and under his arm—he guessed Anne's telekinesis would be pretty useful here), and closed his own bathroom door behind him. I hope I don't ever have to see Overman going there any time soon, he thought.

Sitting down in his favorite recliner, Harvey read the rest of the comic. The story about how "Jerry Spiegal" and "Joe Shumacher" got screwed out of their rights to "The Maximum-Man," if it could be believed, was pretty tragic. Harvey was beginning to feel more and more guilty about taking money from a company that had built itself on the success of a stolen character, for endorsing their current mismanagement of that character. Especially since a tiny fraction of that character, an originary fragment, was him.

But it didn't worry Harvey too much, because the money was going to much better use than paying hacks like Dan Jorgenson to think of new ways to torment Overman. In a few weeks, Anne might be getting her first official program going for "Omega House."

Harvey set the comic down and looked at his watch. She would be getting her first unofficial one going in a few hours. And he'd be there to see it off.

The building that would, funds permitting, become known as Omega House was located about forty minutes outside of Washington, D.C. It would be isolated from the violence of the city, but Anne knew the suburbs had their own kind of violence as well. The kind that bored, comfortable high schoolers liked to inflict on anybody who was just a little different. And while that violence might be easier to deal with, Anne hoped that there wouldn't be any incidents too soon after the House's opening. Especially since its first tenants weren't really supposed to be there at all.

Anne and Harvey stood in the basement of the building. It had once been some kind of social services building, before the recession that no politicians were calling a recession had forced it to close down. Now purchased with money that had originally been stolen from a couple of old Cleveland comic-book writers, it was going to serve a segment of the population that few politicians had the nerve to stand up for. But one that had created more than a few superheroes.

Anne's watch alarm went off, and at the same time, twenty people and their personal belongings all appeared in the middle of the basement. Jimmy DeLeon's transmat didn't generate its own sound effects or light shows, it just moved people from one place to another. From Detroit to Maryland, in this case; the first Colony refugees had arrived.

Nineteen of them were very young; the twentieth was almost as old as Harvey, and he took charge of the rest. After a quick head count, he spoke into a small radio unit and said, "Everybody's here, Jimmy."

"Dat's great." Jimmy DeLeon's voice sounded very tiny coming from the radio. "Say hi to Anne and Harvey for me, okay? And take care of yourself, Franz."

Franz Weiss said his goodbyes, and then instructed the children to listen to Anne and Harvey and follow them to their rooms. A few of the young Omegas bristled at taking directions from a "feeb," and an ex-Nazi at that, but a stern look from Harvey put them back in line. The boys, especially, tended to treat "Overman" respectfully.

Franz slumped down into an old, used couch after they'd gotten all the children to unpack and settle in. He didn't have any Omega to insulate him from the pressures of old age, and the evening had worn him out. His granddaughter Clara curled up next to him and started drifting off to sleep, and Franz looked like he was about to join her.

"Don't worry, Franz," Anne said. "The first day is the roughest."

"Are you kidding?" he moaned. "This place needs so much fixing up... and we've no Jimmy to work the electricity... and we have to be ready for another group of children next week...."

"And we've run out of money," Harvey said, lying down on the floor. Even he was tired. Dealing with twenty children and proto- teenagers will do that to the mightiest of heroes. "NP Comics has bought us one very nice empty shell."

Anne tried to remain cheerful. "We can train the kids to use their Omegas to help fix the place. That's part of the plan for reintroducing them to society anyway. And as for money, I've got that Reed Graves fundraiser coming up next week. That might help out."

Harvey stared at Anne with surprise. "You're finally letting Graves cash in on your image?"

Anne laughed. "As long as the Omega House can cash in on his contributors. Besides, grandpa, if you were able to sell out for this place, then I can too."

Harvey started laughing, too. "That's my girl. Well, I hope the fundraiser goes well. Knowing our luck, an old enemy will show up or something."

Franz groaned and lowered a cushion over his head. "You had to say that, didn't you, Harvey?" He glanced over at Anne. "Say hello to Deathbringer, Owen, and Shiva for me."


But the only menaces at the Graves fundraiser were the rubber chicken and cigar smoke. And of course Graves himself, constantly chatting with Anne about nothing so people could take pictures of them being friendly together. Somebody had even taken the picture of Anne standing next to Graves right after she'd saved his life, and blown it up into a huge poster behind the podium. Anne was amazed that the Senator was so sure her image would help his Presidential campaign; then again, Anne reflected, a black pro-Omega candidate can use all the help he can get. And Tempest certainly isn't available anymore....

When Graves wasn't monopolizing her, Anne had to work the rest of the attendants. If even a few of them became regular patrons, the House would be in much better financial shape. Regrettably, the most interested people were the lechers who paid more attention to Anne's off- the-shoulder dress than her charity pitch. And usually they got dragged off by irate wives.

One man seemed genuinely interested in Omega House, though. He asked about its program for placing young Omegas, and even made several suggestions for other activities. "I think some sort of newspaper or publication to create an Omega voice would be beneficial," he said.

Anne had to nod her head. "You know, that is a really good idea." And yet, something about this man disturbed her, something she couldn't quite put her finger on. Why did he look so familiar? "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name?"

The man, a distinguished gentleman in his fifties, smiled and said, "I didn't throw it. I'm Neil." He shook her hand.

"Really? I have a brother named Neil."

The man blushed, and said, "I'm afraid that I'm not actually named Neil. It's just short for Cornelius. Cornelius Owen, Jr."

Anne paled. Well Franz, she thought, one out of three ain't bad.

"Ms. Benson? Ms. Benson, are you feeling well?"

Anne snapped out of her daze. "Uh... of course. I was just a little surprised, that's all. Listen, about your father—"

Neil Owen held up his hand. "I'm sorry, Ms. Benson, I shouldn't have introduced myself in that way. Of course it surprised you."

Anne began scanning the room for SIRECOM agents or hired killers, but didn't find any. That just made it worse. "Mr. Owen, about your father—"

"There's really nothing to say about my father, Ms. Benson. I daresay I know him even better than you and your grandfather do. And I know that just because he was acquitted of the phone fraud charges, doesn't mean he's not guilty of far worse things. My father and I... don't get along very well."

"Oh." Anne felt even more embarrassed now, for assuming that he would take after the senior Owen.

"At any rate, Ms. Benson, I came here tonight to let you know that at least one Owen doesn't hate every Omega. Even if he's the last Owen," he added caustically. Neil then paused and withdrew into himself, working out some private pain.

Anne could have pried telepathically, but she didn't. She just said, "I guess I'd like you to know that this Omega doesn't hate every Owen."

"Anymore," Neil added, with a bitter smile. "Ah, but you certainly didn't do anything to my father he didn't deserve, and he can't say the same about you." Then Neil fished deep inside his inner breast pocket, and fished out something. "This might go a little way towards redressing that." He pulled out a check.

Anne took it. She supposed it was his way of getting back at his father, but the kids wouldn't be complaining when it paid the bills.

Then she looked at the figure on the check. And she looked at Neil. And she looked at the check again.

"Don't forget to send me that newspaper," he added, and vanished into the crowd.

It took all of Anne's willpower to keep from screaming with joy. For some reason, Anne really wished the elder Owen could see this, so she could gloat in his face, and she wondered what he was doing right then.


The ashes sifted through his old, gnarled fingers and fell back to rejoin their brothers on the ground. Some of them might have even been Jarvin's ashes; Owen would never know, nor would anybody else. All Owen could be sure of was that he was standing on Jarvin Tazakles's grave, in direct contradiction to all those times Jarvin had threatened to dance on his.

Loud, crunchy footsteps interrupted Owen's reverie. Robert Stackdale, his chief assistant, was picking his way towards him over charred piles of what were once walls and weapons, and undoubtedly some humans, too. "Sir," Stackdale said, "I think we should go soon. COED readings are very strong around here—I'm afraid there's still a lot of Omega psychic activity going on in the area."

"Anything related to Tempest?" Owen asked. "Anything we can use against Tempest? Or anything directly threatening us?"

Stackdale glanced at the readings on his portable COED/psi- scanner, and said, "No sir."

"Then it's not my concern. Please leave me to my vigil." Owen gingerly stepped away, trying vainly not to get any more ash on his three hundred dollar shoes. He had waited several weeks for this opportunity, while the military and SIRECOM had scrubbed the wreckage for clues. Now that they were mostly gone, he wouldn't let any psychic boogeymen like the one that was supposedly haunting Detroit chase him away.

Because Cornelius Owen always felt that Jarvin Tazakles was one hell of a guy. The best rival, the best plotter, and in a very sick sense the best friend Owen had ever had. Although Owen had to concede it was a strange friendship where two men continually plotted each other's demise.

Owen blamed Tazakles squarely for that one. The man kept insisting on seeing life as a chess game, and everyone else as the black player on the other side. He couldn't rest until he had destroyed everyone in his path—or, failing that, until he destroyed himself. Owen cursed his rigid chess-game mentality; if he had only adapted to the circumstances, he would have made such an ally. After all, Jarvin invented or perfected nearly all of the technology that let normal humans keep some small measure of control over the reckless Omegas—even if he'd always been an Omega himself. (Owen chuckled to think of Jarvin believing he'd concealed that secret from him; he probably even died believing it.) Jarvin was virtually irreplacable. Indeed, his value as an ally was exceeded only by his threat as an enemy.

Owen wondered if Hauptmann and Benson had played any part in Jarvin's downfall. He sincerely hoped so; he was the one who had steered them towards Dynamax, in those days when Jarvin was maniacally attacking everyone he felt was his enemy. Owen's analysts thought the man had some terminal disease. Perhaps that was why he helped arrange my fall from SIRECOM last December, Owen thought. Perhaps I was just the first of his victims.

And, ironically, the last. Owen fished deep within his overcoat pockets and pulled out a small pill bottle. The label, "Dynamax Batch CO-117B," said little to describe its gelatinous green contents. But those little pills were what kept Owen hale and hearty, even as he approached his eightieth birthday. And although Owen had stockpiled a large amount... without a Dynamax, there might never be any more. Owen had how many years left? Three? Two? One? Sooner or later, he would succumb to infirmity or senility or death....

But it would all be worth it, since Tazakles had gone first.

Besides, Owen thought, with the proper incentives, I might get whatever arises from Dynamax's ashes to make more of these. And if I can't... there are only a few other people I have to see dead before I go myself.

Owen's thoughts were again interrupted, this time by the furious wailing of Stackdale's COED. "What is that damn thing squealing about?" Owen barked.

Stackdale was frantically working the controls, trying to silence it. "There's a huge expenditure of psychic energy, sir... almost like there's a battle going on. Sir, we really should leave."

"The boogeyman's back, eh, Stackdale?"

"Sir, I'm very serious." It was the closest Stackdale came to arguing with his employer. "There's a huge amount of power slipping into the area—the actual amount being produced must be even larger. If there's a battle, it's—" Stackdale and his scanner went silent simultaneously.

The scanner didn't start up again, but Stackdale did. "That's odd, it just... stopped."

Owen snorted. "The bogeyman found some child to feast upon, no doubt. Now, if you're—"

"Or one of the combatants died," Stackdale continued.

Owen paused, and surveyed the bleak landscape. His UN Stormkillers order had driven all the guards and agents off the Dynamax wreckage; he and Stockdale were the only beings out in the cold, dark March night. The only human beings out... "As I was saying," Owen announced, "if you're ready to go, then I am."

"I'm more than ready, sir." Stackdale whirled around and began crunching his way back to the car.

Owen followed him, somewhat more slowly. "Goodbye, Jarvin," he whispered. "I hope your Hell is an even bleaker place than this."

Owen picked his way out of the wreckage of Dynamax Detroit; which had once sat there like a beautiful chessboard, before its mad king laid it all to waste.


Anne and Harvey were working late in Omega House the next day, as they had for many days in the past week. Anne had gone public with the house after the Graves fundraiser (in which a few other donors had followed Neil Owen's lead). Now the work was piling up, and Anne found herself swamped with placing ads for counselors and making calls for plumbers and every other chore imaginable. Fortunately, her new apartment was only twenty minutes from the House by car, or two minutes if she ran or flew.

Harvey had no such excuse, but he made the commute to the House every day and worked long hours. And as much as he and Anne liked to complain, they enjoyed it. So did Franz, who again was going by 'Frank White' lest the media discover that a Nazi was shepherding the children. They all enjoyed it, of course, because they were finally making a difference without pounding in any faces.

Harvey was busy handing out his new Overman comics to the kids. Even if he didn't like them, the kids seemed to enjoy them. All except for little Lewis, the nascent pyrokinetic, who walked up to Harvey in a state of confusion. "What's wrong, kiddo?" Harvey asked.

"My comic has Overman going to the bathroom."

"What the—? Vic Retch?" He snatched the comic away from Lewis. "How did this get handed out? Here you go." Lewis received one of the real Overmans, and bounced away.

After the kids were sent to bed, a haggard Anne and Harvey met in the lobby on the way out. "Another long day over," Harvey said. It was an expression of triumph over the million little things that had come up that day.

One more thing was about to come up, and it wasn't little at all.

Anne began furrowing her brow and feeling her temples. "What's wrong?" Harvey asked.

"Something... something is coming," Anne said. "The feedback...!"

Before she could elaborate, a very desperate-looking man in a trenchcoat walked through the lobby's front doors. Without opening them first. Harvey tensed into a fighting position, but the man said, "Relax, Mister Hauptmann. I'm here on official business."

Harvey wasn't convinced. "If you're here to join Omega House, you're a little old. Now, I'd show you to the door, but that would be redundant."

The man chuckled, as though he found Harvey's line amusing but didn't have the energy to laugh. "Actually, Mister Hauptmann, I'm here to ask you two for your help. It seems you're the only publicly accessible Omegas these days. As you can see, I'm an Omega as well."

"That doesn't necessarily mean you're friendly," Anne said. For some reason, she thought of the Havoc Squad. "So who are you, and what do you want?"

"The name is Morgan," he said, "Thomas Morgan. I'm a private investigator. For the past few weeks, I've been investigating some of the psychic fallout from the Dynamax Detroit explosion."

Anne and Harvey exchanged nervous glances. Could this man know that Anne had been there? Were they in trouble with the law again? "We're already dealing with enough fallout from that explosion, Mister Morgan," said Anne, hoping to deflect his inquiry. "We don't need any more."

"I think you'll be interested in this fallout, Ms. Benson. It's preying on people, draining their very psychic essence. Since I have the power to travel on the astral plane, I was hired to find out what was causing it."

"Hired by who?" Harvey asked.

"I'll tell you that when I think you need to know. Right now, all you need to know is that yesterday, while I was astrally snooping around Dynamax, somebody attacked me. My physical body, that is."

"Now wait a minute," Harvey shouted—then he remembered the sleeping kids nearby. "Wait a minute," he said in a lower voice, "if I want to know who hired you—"

Morgan suddenly turned very angry, creating more feedback in Anne's head. "Hauptmann," he said, "I've only got about twelve hours left, and I don't have the time for this." Calming down, he said, "I'd like to hire you and your granddaughter to find out who killed me. I'd like to know who did it before I die."

TO BE CONTINUED...


Next issue:
Anne and Harvey embark on their strangest case yet, in Body and Soul part one.

Thomas Morgan created by Matt Rossi, appears courtesy of Matt Dempster. Everything else created by, written by, and c. Marc Singer.

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