________ ____ _ _____ _ _ ____ _ | | | | | | | | | | | | BLiP | | | | | | -|-- | | o | | | | |--| |--| |---| | | |--~ |--| |--| |--- ---- | #24 | | | | | | | | | | | \ | | | | | | |___ | | | | | |~~~ | | | | _ | | | | | |~~~ | | ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~ ~~~~ [The Alt.Riders are standing proudly, guarding everything, steering out, while a blur passed by them in the background.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Speeed, Part II" Marsha sat nursing a cup of coffee in the Alt.Riders headquarters cafeteria when Rick walked in. "Morning, Rick. Had your mind taken over by anyone recently?" Marsha opened. Recently that seemed to be happening to them a lot. [Check out recent issues of _The Alt.Riders_ for details. - Footnote Girl] Rick grunted in reply, and got his own cup of coffee before sitting some distance away and staring into space, his coffee cooling on a table. Marsha frowned. "Earth to Rick. Everything all right?" On receiving no response, Marsha got up and walked over to him. "Are you all right?" she asked, putting an arm on his shoulder. Rick jumped, looked up, saw it was Marsha, then shook her hand off. "Nothing. Just bad dreams." "I hear you," Marsha replied, but could see there was something more. "If you'd like to talk about it...?" "I'd rather not," replied Rick, getting up and walking away. Marsha watched him go, but didn't try to stop him, just turned to watch his cooling coffee. "Can I clean that away for you?" a voice offered. Surprised at the interruption, Marsha looked up to see Captain Cleanup reaching for the left-over coffee. She'd forgotten they had their own clone of the Captain to help out. [This is after events in _The Alt.Riders #17_ - Footnote Girl] "Oh, sure," she replied, getting out of the way of the champion of cleanliness. "Have you seen Agent anywhere this morning?" "Actually, I think he's looking for you." The sentence was hardly over before Agent strode into the room. "We've got a job," he announced. Missy followed him as Agent looked around the room. "Where's Rick? I thought he was here." "He was. Now he's not," Marsha replied briefly. Agent waved his hand. "Whatever. We've had a call from the LNH, who had a call from the Got.ham city officials. They've been suffering a rash of diamond heists recently, and think there might be some supervillain behind it all. In fact, one of the diamonds was the Burgenstock diamond," he said, looking at Marsha pointedly. Marsha smirked. "Hey, if someone is out to cause trouble for my mother, I might just join him." Agent's voice was hard. "This villain also caused the death of Captain Everything." Any sense of humour died. This was definitely serious then. [See _Captain Everything #1_ for the unfortunate details. - Footnote Girl] "We're to head to Got.ham and check it out. The villain's name is Speeed." "Speeed?" "With three e's. But make no mistake, this person is deadly." "We'd better get going then." _-~-_ As the flight.thingee neared the Got.ham city airport, Agent checked the final details. "Has everyone got their communicator bracelet?" he asked, holding up his arm to show a bracelet on it. Dva and Morph shared a look. "Um, I lost mine," Morph replied. "Hard to keep track of solid objects when you're changing states." "It didn't go with my outfit," Dva said. "What communicator?" Missy asked. [Good question. The author forgot all about them after introducing them in _The Alt.Riders #1_. - Footnote Girl] Agent sighed. "Never mind." He took his own bracelet off and threw it to Missy. "You might find that interesting. Oh, by the way, touch down." The flight.thingee landed on the tarmac, and the Alt.Riders were met by Chief Repp, the chief of the Got.ham city police. "Greetings from Got.ham city," he said. "Er, are you all superheroes?" He cast his eyes over the group, pausing at Missy and her blue skin. "Certainly. We're here to deal with this Speeed problem," Agent replied. The chief seemed to shrug. "All right then. If you'll come this way." The chief led the way to a car, and talked over the case as they drove into town. "Almost every jewelry store has been hit by this freak. There are only two left, so I thought-" "Indeed. Two teams, most sensible. Why don't you, Morph, go with-" "I'll go with Missy," Morph quickly interjected. Agent paused, then continued. "Okay, you and Missy take one store, Dva and myself will watch the other one." "Are we jumping in a little early?" Dva asked. "Watching stores all ready? How do we know they'll be hit soon?" "It started a week ago, with the theft of the diamonds at the museum exhibit," the chief replied. "Since then, it's been a regular theft of two stores a day. We've tried to stop him ourselves, but he's been too quick for us. Today there are only the two stores left, so this will be our last chance." _-~-_ Morph and Missy were dropped off first, outside Palmer's Jewellery Store. There was no sign of a disturbance, obviously this store hadn't been hit yet. Inside, they introduced themselves to the owner, Ms. Palmer. "We were already hit once, a week ago," she told them. "It was this weird guy, who could walk through walks. Fortunately Captain Everything was able to save the jewels, but we had no idea then that every store would get hit. But that was, before, well..." Morph grimaced in the uncomfortable silence. "Was there anything specifically that was targeted?" he asked. "At the time, any jewels he could get a hold of, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, whatever was on display," Ms. Palmer replied. "But since then, just diamonds have been targeted. We've now got ours locked away in the safe out the back, but other stores have done that, and they've still been robbed." That didn't exactly fill Morph with hope, but they were here now. Ms. Palmer showed them to the back room, where there was indeed a safe. She excused herself, returning to the main store, leaving Morph and Missy to look around at the sparsely furnished office. Missy found a book on gems, and started flicking through it, but Morph was unable to settle. Something had been preying on his mind recently, and now was as good a time as any to talk to someone about it. That the someone was a blue-skinned being from another planet actually made it easier. "Uh, Missy, can I ask you something?" Missy looked up at Morph obligingly. "Yes?" "Do you ever worry about...what might happen to you? As you get older?" Morph asked uncertainly. "To your body?" Missy shrugged. "I see many old people on my planet. I know what happen as age takes over. Organ failure more imminent, senses dull, memory fails-" "And, that doesn't bother you?" Morph asked. Missy shrugged again. "That time. Can't do anything about that." She paused. "Why you asked?" "No reason," Morph replied. There was silence for a moment as Missy waited for something else, but with nothing forthcoming, she returned to her book. "It's just that," Morph started up, making Missy look at him again. "When Bennington trapped up, and then in that...that circus thing, whatever it was... Both times, I was... "In the desert, I was melting. And, in that circus thing, I encountered something that had already melted. I think. It was almost deranged. I just...just wonder if that is what's going to happen to me. Melt away into nothingness..." Morph faltered to a stop, looking down at the floor, anywhere but at Missy. "Do you think that is what happen?" Missy asked gently. "Perhaps. I don't know. I just don't like the idea that I can't even control my own body anymore. That I'll just become a puddle of goo." "Possible," Missy admitted. "But do not worry. I put you back together." Morph smiled, for her benefit, not for his own. Silence returned. Time passed. _-~-_ Agent and Dva settled down in the back room of Got.ham Diamonds, this store owner having taken the same precaution. "It's times like this," said Agent, trying to get comfortable in a chair. "That makes one really glad to be a superhero." Dva looked at Agent skeptically, but didn't reply. "No, seriously. I mean, here we are, protecting the good people of this city from the nefarious plans of some villain, and all while doing nothing more than sitting down. Gives you a real sense of doing something important." Dva looked out into the main show room, but there was nothing happening out there. "Yes, just the two of us, waiting for the bad guy to turn up. Nothing to do but be poised against the forces of evil, ready to strike at a moment's notice." Agent started to carefully inspect his fingernails. "Yep, you and me. Morph and Missy. And the Net.Elementalist, wherever he is at the moment. Ah, but it's been a while since we saw him. Whatever did happen to him?" Agent mused. [The Net.Elementalist disappeared during _The Alt.Riders #21_ - Footnote Girl] "If I recall correctly, and I'm sure I do, he was invoking his thread power. So, if it really is thread, then maybe he killfiled himself." Agent considered that idea for a moment. "Or maybe he cross-posted himself. Could be anywhere out in the net right now. We should get a net.thingee, see if we can track him down. How many places on the net could he be? How many newsgroups are there, anyway? We should ask if we" It took Agent a few moments to realize that, although he was talking, no sound was coming out of his month. He looked up to see Dva standing alertly, eyes searching the room beyond. Agent levered himself out of the chair, and moved to join his colleague. And was knocked to the floor. Agent sprawled, momentarily winded by something that had ran into him. Something. Or someone. Obviously, Speeed was in the house. There was a whirring sound from the bank, as the dial was spun at sonic speeds. Then it slowed down. Agent looked up to see Dva concentrating intently, then over to see a figure coming into view, moving quickly but slowing down, like some kind of projector with the tape getting stuck in the machine. With Dva damping Speeed's own speed ability, Agent took the chance to apply his own ability. Reaching into his jacket, Agent retrieved a heavy bar, and brought it down on Speeed's head. However, even slowed down from super-sonic speed, Speeed was still quicker than the blink of an eye. Instead of connecting with Speeed's head, Speeed instead grabbed Agent's arm, and brought it up behind Agent's back, nearly to the point of breaking it. "Go away," Speeed said, impatiently. Spinning Agent, Speeed sent him tumbling into Dva, wiping both of them out, and freeing Speeed to act as fast as he wanted to. As Agent and Dva scrambled to their feet, they could see the door being melted off as friction was applied. By the time they were ready, the diamonds were safely in Speeed's grasp. Dva grabbed the bar off Agent, and stepped forwards. Speeed, however, still had plenty of time to rip the bar out of Dva's hands, then set about cracking it into various parts of Dva's body. But it didn't quite have the effect Speeed had hoped for. The bar merely sank into Dva's body each time, causing absolutely no damaged at all. And that gave Agent time to act. Lunging forwards, Agent grabbed Speeed's arms, held them in an unbreakable grip, and pulled Speeed towards him, leaving Dva sandwiched in the middle. Speeed tried a head bash, but met the same lack of success, and ended only with the unpleasant sensation of having his head stuck inside the head of something else. "Okay, show's over," Agent said. "You're coming with us." Agent twisted Speeed's arms, making the superfreak gasp in agony. Dva took the chance to wriggle out of the way, and try to shake the dents out. "You can't keep hold of me," Speeed said. "I'm faster that you'll ever be." "Not for much longer." A hand clamped down on Speeed's shoulder, and Speeed could feel his superfast abilities being denied him. Dva nodded to Agent, who let go. "Be careful. He's wily," Agent warned, but by then it was already too late. Even at normal speeds, an elbow in the face can still hurt, especially when it connects with your nose. There was a nasty crunch, and a spurt of blood, as Dva's nose broke on contact. Agent lunged forwards again, but Speeed danced out of the way. This time Dva wasn't in the way as Speeed snatched up the bar, and brought it down on Agent's head. Agent didn't go unconscious, but he did collapse onto the floor. He barely heard the door tinkle as Speeed exited the building, too busy trying to keep his lunch down. "Oh yeah," he muttered, trying to stand and failing. "It's great to be a superhero." _-~-_ Morph looked up from his internal musing when Ms. Palmer stuck her head in the door. "I've just received a phone call," she said. "The other store has been robbed. We'll be hit any minute." Morph nodded. "Right then. Leave this to us." Despite his bravado, Morph wondered what happened at the other store, and was Dva and Agent all right? However, for now he had a job to do. Waving Missy, who had been examining gems with an eyeglass, to back away, Morph breathed out then exploded. Lines of thread shot from his body, criss-crossing and sticking to the floor, ceiling and walls. Moments later there was no Morph present, but a large web cutting the room in two, the door on one side, the safe on the other. Morph barely finished when a crash reached him, and then someone was standing right in front of him. From the flashy entrance it could only be Speeed. Speeed examined the web in front of him carefully, not sure what exactly was happening here. He heard the blue creature say something, but had other things on his mind. Taking a practical approach, he picked up a chair, and slammed it through the web. However, the web held, and bounced the chair back at him, although Speeed easily moved out of the way. A moment later, Speeed returned with a glass shard from the broken front door. Slashing at the web, it proved surprisingly resilient, bending slightly but not breaking. Annoyed, Speeed lashed out, grabbing a strand of the web and pulling. The web suddenly shrank, focusing on the part that was now wrapped around Speeed's hand. It flowed up his arm, despite the superspeed shaking it was now being subjected to. In moments, in spite of whatever Speeed tried, it covered his entire body. And tightened. His body suddenly compressed, Speeed dropped to the floor, barely able to breath. The web even covered his face, so even breathing proved impossible, leaving Speeed no option but to black out. Missy watched as Morph flowed off the unconscious body and back into his normal shape. Morph shook himself. "That felt unpleasant," he said. "We capture him," Missy pointed out. "Yes. Perhaps Agent was having an off day." A gasp drew their attention back to the floor, but by then Speeed was already rising. Morph shot out an arm, aiming to trap Speeed again, but this time Speeed was ready. Ducking away, Speeed started almost dancing, leading Morph around the room. Morph shot out a handful of strands, but realized too late that Speeed had now positioned Missy between the two of them. Before he could stop himself, Morph half-enveloped the unfortunate Chub. This gave Speeed the time he needed (not that he needed much time) to open the safe. He was reaching for the diamonds when Morph, giving up all attempt at subtlety, slammed a slab of concrete into his body. Speeed dropped to the floor again, this time coughing, feeling a wetness in his chest. Metal bands appeared around his body, binding him, but for the moment Speeed had no intention of doing anything other than trying to survive. "Morph, that not nice," he heard. Then came a voice, seeming from the metal bands themselves. "He's not being very nice. I'm getting a little tired of this." Speeed groaned as he felt the broken rib pop back into place, then tried to crawl away as the sensation of metal moving over his body assaulted him. The metal bands became a pseudo-skeleton, forcing him upright, and moving him like a puppet. "Let's get him out of here," the metal skeleton said, and began walking him to the door. However, metal, generally speaking, conducted heat, and tended to melt rather easily at high temperatures. And Speeed was very good at generated high temperatures. Even bound like this, he still had enough room to start vibrating. Fast. Creating a lot of heat through friction. And passing that heat on to his new jailer. "Yee-ah!" With a scream, the metal frame dropped away, leaving Speeed free to move once more. Grabbing the diamonds took only a moment, but when he turned back, it was to see the blue thing in the entrance way. "Oh, do you really think *you* are going to stop me?" Speeed asked. "Yes," Missy replied defiantly. By that time, however, Speeed was finishing his roundhouse punch. As Missy fell backwards, Speeed took a step forwards, then stopped unintentionally. Looking down, he saw that his other foot was encased in a mixture of concrete and still half-liquid metal. "Give it up already!" Speeed advised. Vibrating his foot quickly was enough to free himself from Morph's new weak hold. Not bothering with further conversation, Speeed left the store. Now Morph had some idea of what happened to the others. _-~-_ "Speeed here. I got the last of the items you wanted." "Excellent. The usual drop." "Then I'm gone." "I would like to employ your services for a while longer." "You pay the price, you've got my time." "Perfect. I'm sure we'll enjoy continuing to work together." Speeed replaced the phone, so never had the chance to hear the other voice continue. "I'm sure you'll just love working for your new God." _-~-_ "I'm sorry we were unable to help. However, it's been two days with no sign of anything further. For now, there's nothing more we can do," Agent said to Chief Repp, as they walked back to the flight.thingee at Got.ham airport. To tell the truth, the only reason they had stayed those two days was to allow the team to heal. "I sure hope so. But if he could defeat Captain Everything, I guess there wasn't much you could do." Agent wondered if they had just been insulted, but decided to let it pass. "You've got our contact details if anything more comes up." "We'll be in touch," the chief assured, helping, almost pushing, Agent on to the flight.thingee where the others waited. As it lifted off, Chief Repp returned to the car, where Commissioner Hamilton waited. "You know," the chief said casually, "I hear they've outlawed superheroes from Germany." [This is due to events in _The Alt.Riders #3_ - Footnote Girl] Commissioner Hamilton watched the flight.thingee disappear. "That's certainly one of the better ideas I've ever heard. With any luck, we wont be seeing them again." _-~-_ The 'God', on the other hand, had other plans. Speeed was just finishing confessing his antics done in God's service. "The Alt.Riders? Yes, I know of them. I know of everyone. Yes, it might be interesting to... bring them to our service." God snapped his fingers. "Come, we have work to do..." _-~-_ The car pulled up outside the house. "Are you sure we should go through with this?" Rick asked. "It's been how many years since we were in touch?" Marsha asked rhetorically. "We were gone a while under mysterious circumstances, but even then we came back. But Barry didn't. We owe it to his family to at least report that we are still looking for him." "Except we haven't been," said Agent. "As we were missing, and all." Marsha glared at him. "There's no need for her to know that. I'm sure she feels bad enough as it is." "We have absolutely no idea were he went." Rick pointed out. "Agent said something about his being in the net," Marsha said. "Ah, so you were listening," Agent grinned. "Well, at least that narrows it down to only thousands of possible places," Rick replied. "Are we going or sitting?" Missy asked. "Right. We're going," Marsha said decisively, unbuckling her seat belt. They all got out of the car, but paused. This was Barry's house in Phila.DEL.phia, with his wife Alice, and his daughter Abby. And no Barry. What could they really do about it? After a minute of standing and staring, Marsha finally moved, the others falling in behind her. With a rising feeling of dread, Marsha touched the door buzzer. She could here footsteps approach, and nearly winced as the door opened, but that feeling was quickly replaced by shock. "Hi guys," said Barry. "What are you doing here?" ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEXT ISSUE: Barry's back! How could that be? And this means the Net.Elementalist is back! Doesn't it? CREDITS: All mine. NOTES: Okay, I confess. When introducing a new set of villains, DC did a range of "New Year's Evil" comics. Me, I wrote an issue, seemingly of a brand new superhero, only to kill him off at the end, just to bring in the character of Speeed for use here. Yes, I am evil, why do you ask?Back to the Index.