The big bike hit Bombastic in the chest, knocking him to the tarmac again, and Johnny Saturn gunned the engine, grinding the Harley’s back wheel into Bombastic’s groin. The wheel whirled in place, smoke rose, and Bombastic screamed. It only ended when the huge metahuman swung a right cross, smashing the motorcycle away from him, sending its twisted wreckage flying across the docks and off, into the slip between the piers. The bike’s engine still roared as it flew, and a blast of steam rose from where it sank into the depths.
Johnny Saturn had already leaped clear—he had no intention of following his transport to a watery grave! He grabbed a huge, iron pipe, apparently a reinforcement blasted free from the palette that Synn’s crates had arrived on, and Johnny turned to meet Bombastic.
“That hurt, you little—” bellowed Bombastic.
Nils never finished his challenge, because Johnny smashed his improvised weapon into Bombastic’s head. Johnny was no metahuman: he had no metahuman strength—but prodigious steroid use and punishing workouts had pumped his muscles to excessive size, and years of hard-bitten struggles had pared him down to the steely core. Add to that his U.S. Ranger training, his martial arts know-how, and his beloved boxing experience, and this was a fighter who could hit you with the conviction of a careening locomotive!
Bombastic smiled evilly—the blow had left no more than a faint welt above his eye.
Undeterred, Johnny Saturn laid into Bombastic, striking blow after punishing blow, pounding the huge brute until the thick metal bar began to warp. Saturn was maniacal, a berserker. Buchanan had never seen anything like it.
Bombastic had had enough. He knocked Johnny’s weapon away, and grabbed for the vigilante. “I am going to snap you to bloody bits, Saturn! I am—urkh!”
Everyone—Bombastic, Johnny Saturn, Greg Buchanan—was surprised by what came next. Bombastic’s clothes–especially his bandolier–had suddenly rolled up his body and tightened around his neck. The possessed gear and garments squeezed tighter and tighter, and Bombastic could not get a grip on them. First Nils Zilcher turned dark red, and then he turned purple, as his bloodshot eyes bulged grotesquely.
Decorum stood defiantly, her will controlling the giant brute’s gear and clothing, choking him to death. “That’s for killing Shadowcowl, you piece of shit.” She did not say it loudly. She did not have too. Her words rang out clearly in the shocked silence.
Bombastic turned to flee, perhaps hoping to get out of range of Decorum’s power. He only made it a few steps before he stumbled and pitched forward, unconscious. Only then did Decorum release Bombastic from her suffocating death grip.
“I would have killed him,” said Johnny Saturn to her. He was not joking, Buchanan was sure of that. He also saw that the mystery man’s eyes looked sad. Typically the old fighter had no use for metaheroes, but this girl had just learned a hard lesson. Clearly, Johnny Saturn could appreciate her pain.
She did not hear his words, of course. She was deaf, perhaps forever, and the grief for her partner was beginning to overtake her.
Sirens wailed into the night, and the lights of a dozen more police cars flickered into view in the distance.
Greg, battered, bloody, and probably a little concussed, staggered over to Johnny Saturn. Buchanan did not know Johnny well—who did, actually—but he respected the old mystery man.
“You’d better leave, Saturn, if you don’t want to answer a lot of questions,” offered the detective.
Johnny nodded a silent recognition that seemed to say I figured you for an all right cop, Buchanan. At that, Johnny Saturn strode off into the night and was soon swallowed by shadows.
Buchanan looked around as a small army of police descended on the site. This operation was a complete washout. The contraband was destroyed by Synn’s bomb, reduced to a smear on the tarmac that would offer few clues in a court of law. There was the crying girl, the dead and injured officers, and the unconscious metahuman. A total washout.
This is not over, thought Buchanan. It’s never over . . .
Manny Calabria wondered just how far he would have to hike along the interstate before someone gave him a ride. Probably all the way to Indianapolis, he thought wryly. Dirty, tattered and bloody as he was, everyone probably assumed he was dangerous and passed by him. Normally, he was dangerous, but not tonight.
A white limousine pulled onto the curb, and its rear door opened. There, in the back seat, sat Dr. Horatio Synn, as meticulous and proper as ever. Manny felt his stomach turn—there was no way this could turn out well for him.
“Hello, Manny,” said Dr. Synn cheerfully. “You and I need to talk. Get in.”