Growing Up Is Hard To Do, Book 5
Preamble: In book 3, Jayna, as Joanna Fleming, thought she had settled her issues with wayward boyfriend Lew Watson, while brother Zan (John), was on the fast track with his lady love, Mary Lou. However, things are not always what they seem to be...........
Book 5: The Wonder Twins: Hard Choices & Harder Lessons
Setting: December 1981.
John Fleming was getting ready to close Lansing's Auto Works, where he worked part-time after school, when Daily Planet reporter-photographer Jimmy Olsen, who has been in a developing relationship with John's sister, Joanna, of late, pulled in, and needed some emergency repairs. Within a few minutes, Jimmy had his car ready to go again, but decided to spend some time with his friend.
"Have you made any plans for New Year's?", he asked.
"Not really. I think Mary Lou & I may be at home with her folks that night, but that won't be finalized until we go back to Gotham in 2 weeks.", John replied. "You thinking of coming out to take Joanna out?"
"The thought's crossed my mind.", Jimmy replied. "The only thing that would preclude that would be if I were away on assignment for an extended period."
Just then, the phone rang, and John answered. It was Mary Lou. John glanced at his watch and realized it was nearly closing time. "I'm on my way.", he said.
Upon reaching home, John was greeted not only by his girlfriend, but by a strange man who'd been waiting for about an hour. He identified himself as Victor Saltaires, and said he was working for the US government on a top secret project. He & John retreated to the community room on the first floor of the Anderson Arms, which, luckily, was vacant at the moment.
"Ok, just what kind of offer did you have in mind, Mr. Saltaires?"
"It's a matter of national security, Mr. Fleming. I have traveled a long way trying to locate you and your sister, and it's unfortunate she isn't here. This dossier will explain everything to you. I can't really stay and discuss matters here. My business card is in the dossier. Call me to set up an appointment."
Saltaires departed, and John returned to his apartment. He replaced the dossier in his room, and went into the kitchen to help Mary Lou with dinner. Afterwards, the two were alone, and Mary Lou had a surprise for John.
"I honestly don't know what to think. Mr. Saltaires insisted on staying until you came home, and that this couldn't wait, and now he says you need to call him?"
"He sounded desperate, nervous, as if he wasn't sure if he was in the right place.", John replied.
"To be honest with you, honey, I'd say he was. He just went about it the wrong way.", Mary Lou replied.
"What do you mean?"
"Don't kid yourself. When were you planning on telling me the truth about you and Joanna?"
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Joanna and her roommate, Jessie Franklin, had returned from doing some Christmas shopping to find an intruder in their apartment.
"My name is Vincent Saltaires,", he began, "and I am hoping one of you is Joanna?"
"That would be me.", Joanna replied, putting down four boxes of gifts. She introduced Jessie, thinking that Saltaires was a talent agent who might have jobs for both girls. This wasn't to be.
"No, I am sorry, I am not a talent agent.", Saltaires said, chuckling. "I am an agent, though, for the United States Government, and we need you and your particular talents, Ms. Fleming."
He left her a dossier similar to the one her brother had gotten in Metropolis, then left. The girls were puzzled.
"What I'd like to know is how he beat our security system.", Jessie said. "How rude."
"Rude, maybe, but there's something else to him. Time to suit up, Jess. I think the Night Phantoms need to pay him a visit."
"Ok, fine, but before we do that, how about we play 'To Tell The Truth', as in, when were you planning on telling me the truth about you and John?"
Joanna was stunned. How had Jessie pierced her secret? Then, it hit her. They were doing each other's hair the other night, and Jessie may have found her pointed ears underneath her long, blonde hair.
"We'll talk about it on the way, Jess, after we change. You deserve to know the truth, but you have to keep it to yourself."
Minutes later, the two were now garbed in the midnight attire of the Night Phantoms, LA's secret guardians. In the privacy of Joanna's 1980 Chevy Corvette, she told the story of how she & her brother emigrated to Earth 4 1/2 years earlier. The whole deal about their being exchange students was, of course, a cover story. Aside from Jessie, she was now alone for the first time, with John in Metropolis, and, to keep busy, decided to keep the Night Phantom in play upon arriving in LA.
"No wonder you're so adept at doing the human fly bit on the walls.", Jessie remarked. "You've had plenty of practice."
"No one really needs to wish they were a fly on the wall around me.", Joanna replied, chuckling, thankful her mask hid the fact she was blushing. "I've been there, done that many times."
"So you're doing this to compensate for not being able to use your powers?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes."
"So why are we going in to meet Saltaires in costume?"
"To confuse him, for one thing. For another, I'm curious to find out what this project is he wants me for."
Abruptly, Jessie heard something in the glove compartment.
"That wouldn't happen to be a communicator, would it?", she asked.
"It is.", Joanna replied. "It's probably my brother."
Jessie opened the compartment and found the JLA communicator. She handed it to Joanna.
"I'll stay outside, and.."
"You'll do no such thing, Jess. Stay here.", Joanna replied. She lifted the brim of her mask and turned on the communicator. Indeed, John was on the line.
"Go ahead, brother."
"We've got problems, sis. Identity problems."
"It's not so bad. You've said for a while you were thinking of confiding. We'll talk about it when we get back to Gotham."
"How about here in Metropolis? I need you here ASAP."
"I've got business here in LA, and then I'll catch up. Over and out."
Some time later, the two roommates scaled the wall of the Gramercy Towers, where Vincent Saltaires was headquartered. Joanna picked the lock on the window, enabling them to enter. However, Saltaires was waiting for them with guards and guns.
"Well, it seems there is more than one Night Phantom roaming the streets.", he said. "And now, I have them both."
The guards approached, but were quickly disarmed. Jessie counted herself thankful for the martial arts and self defense courses she'd been taking. Now, it was just Saltaires and the girls.
"I think", Joanna said, "the tables have just gotten turned."
Obviously, the Saltaires brothers are twins, but what exactly do they want with Zan & Jayna? Now that Zan has finally confided in Mary Lou (or so we think), what's next for them? And where is Lew in all this? We'll have the answers in chapter 2.
Last edited by hobbyfan; 07-31-2012 at 10:37 AM.
"I realize Joanna isn't here, and isn't due for another two weeks, but I don't think I can wait that long."
Lew Watson stood in the doorway of Professor Carter Nichols' boarding house, which had been home to the twins since arriving on Earth. Nichols admitted Lew to get him out of the rain.
"So, what could be so urgent?", he asked.
"For one thing, I lost Joanna's phone number in LA when I was shuffling some papers at home. I wanted to tell her right away, but the more I think about it, the more I realize she may be disappointed all over again.", Lew replied.
"Hmm, I see. So what's the big news?"
"I've decided to enlist in the Army, rather than just enroll at West Point. My dad was in the Marines and served in Korea. I have two uncles who were in the Army. One was actually at West Point. My grandfather was in the Army, too, so I'd be the third generation at least in my family to be in that branch of the military."
"Wonderful! I think Joanna would be proud of you.", Nichols exclaimed. He dialed Joanna's number, but got the answering machine and left a message.
"I believe she & Jessie have some Christmas shopping to do tonight.", he concluded.
In truth, the girls were in the office of Vincent Saltaires, who claimed to be a government agent, but perhaps he was anything but. Having disarmed Saltaires' guards, the Night Phantoms now had Saltaires cornered.
"I believe you have me at a distinct disadvantage, ladies.", he said.
"We received a call about a home invasion, and you match the description of the intruder.", Joanna said icily, her voice a little huskier, albeit muffled by her mask. "Maybe you can tell us why a government agent resorts to simple breaking & entering."
"I will do no such thing.", Saltaires replied. "It's a matter of national security. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, leave, before I have the police here, and you'd be hard pressed to explain your actions."
"Don't say we didn't warn you.", Joanna replied, as she whirled and dropped Saltaires with a roundhouse kick. The girls then escaped the same way they came, by rappelling down the wall and back to their car.
"That didn't go well", Jessie said, removing her lycra mask. "We didn't gain anything from this."
"Oh, yes, we did.", Joanna replied. "It's a weekend, so we'll head home, change, and head for the airport and see what John wants in Metropolis."
"That will give Saltaires time to cover his tracks!"
"Only if we let him, Jess. Only if we let him."
The next day, Joanna & Jessie met with John & Mary Lou for lunch. Mary Lou had become privy to the twins' secret as well, and for the same reason as Jessie. John scolded his sister for leaving Saltaires behind, having not finished her end of the case. Yet.
"I think he's going to be soon coming here anyway, bro.", Joanna said. "I don't think they work for the US after all."
"And you'd be right.", Mary Lou replied. "John & I took a look at the dossier Victor Saltaires left behind last night. No government agent worth his salt would be skulking around like this, unless he represented a foreign power."
Just then, the phone rang. John walked to the living room and answered. It was Jimmy Olsen.
"Your hunch was right, John.", Jimmy said. "The Saltaires twins are double agents, working for an as yet undetermined foreign agency. Seems they want you and Joanna for some secret experiment that might be, in my opinion, very fatal to you."
"How did you find out?"
"Through a mutual friend. By the way, said friend would like to see you as soon as Joanna arrives in town."
"She's here, Jimmy. Do you want to talk to her?"
"I'll be at the meeting. It'll be at the Daily Planet."
Later, the twins met with Jimmy and Superman on the roof of the Planet building. The Man of Steel was not yet aware that the twins' identities had been discovered by two of their classmates, and the focus was strictly the matter at hand.
"Vince & Vic Saltaires are freelancers who'll ply their trade for the highest bidder. According to our CBI contact, it seems the Chinese may be interested. They've been trying to develop a race of super-soldiers of late."
"I think I've heard about these 'Sino-Supermen'.", Jimmy put in. "From what I heard, Batgirl had a run-in with them about a year or two ago."
"And you heard right, Jimmy.", Superman confirmed. "As close as we are to Christmas break, I really don't....."
"We get it.", Jayna said. "We may have to sacrifice some private time to try to shut them down. Thing is, where do we start?"
"That's one I can answer for you, honey.", Jimmy replied. "We can start in Washington."
"Why not wait until after Christmas?", Zan asked. "There's no guarantee they'll be here before then."
"You kids have this weekend, and I realize you have a short week at school before the holiday break.", Superman replied. "I think we'd be safer waiting it out to see if the Saltaires twins do come together here in town first."
Some time later, Jimmy & Jayna were finally alone in Jimmy's apartment.
"What's the matter?", Jimmy asked. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No, it's not your fault, Jim. I didn't really want you getting involved. What I can't figure is how the Saltaireses got that close in the first place."
"That's something we can find out together, babe. It's your call."
"What you want to wear. Either you stick with the purple, or go back to your black suit, and do this as a Night Phantom. You might be safer that way."
"What would you prefer, Jimmy?"
"Honey, you look sexier in black.", Jimmy replied as he kissed her. He glanced at his watch and realized he had to get Jayna back to her brother's apartment.
"I think it's time to go. I'll take you home."
"Give me a few minutes to switch to my black outfit.", Jayna replied, as she picked up her backpack. "I had a feeling you wanted this."
However, when the couple returned to the Anderson Arms, they found Mary Lou & Jessie bound & gagged with duct tape. Jimmy started in, but Joanna stopped him.
"Crawl, honey. I'll explain later."
The couple dropped flat to the ground and worked their way inside. Jimmy found a listening device on the coffee table and broke it while Joanna freed the other girls.
"They have John!", Mary Lou exclaimed. "They said for you to meet them at the docks by midnight and surrender!"
"Not without a fight.", Joanna replied icily. "And we've only just begun to fight!"
With their secret identities compromised, this could be the Wonder Twins' last case. Or is it? It continues in chapter 3.
Jimmy sprayed some deodorizer near the door, revealing a laser trap had been set. He & Joanna would've been fried had they walked in. Joanna found the lasers and disabled them. Jessie & Mary Lou changed to their Night Phantom outfits.
"Now what?", Jessie asked.
"We take the fight to them, Jess.", Joanna replied, handing the girls the laser pens. "We'll use these lasers as a distraction, and have them off on a wild goose chase."
"At the same time,", Jimmy added, "we might be able to learn just who hired the Saltaires twins."
It was just before midnight when Jimmy and the girls reached the docks off Metropolis Harbor.
"We can hit them from four different directions.", Jimmy said. "Since you three are now practically triplets, the Saltaires brothers won't know who's who."
"That's the whole idea, Jimmy.", Joanna cooed. "I don't have to tell you to be careful, do I?"
"Took the words right out of my mouth, gorgeous."
The Saltaires brothers and John walked out to the pier, where they were joined by Dr. Moon, an Asian scientist who'd worked with some crime lords both in the US and abroad, and had a hand in the creation of the Sino-Supermen.
"Where is the girl?", he demanded.
"We cannot find her. We know she's here in the city, since I followed her and her friend here.", Vincent Saltaires replied. "Problem is, she's gone deep into ground."
At that moment, Joanna was on the roof of a nearby bar. Vincent Saltaires had a gun pointed at John's back. Aiming the laser pen, Joanna sliced the revolver in two. The next shot cut the ropes holding her brother. Vincent picked up the broken gun.
"She's here. She must've found the laser pens we left at her brother's."
Abruptly, Mary Lou & Jessie emerged from hiding and jumped the Saltaires twins. Joanna hopped off the roof and caught Dr. Moon in a hammerlock.
"Not a sound, Doctor.", she said icily. "Consider this transaction cancelled."
Moon wriggled free, and waved a scalpel at the masked maiden. Free, John tackled the doctor, and knocked him out. Suddenly, the Sino-Supermen appeared. Two Asiatic Supermen wannabes, as well as copies of Wonder Woman and Supergirl.
"Jessie! Mary! This way!", John called. The girls ran toward the alley. Fortunately, Jimmy was waiting.
"Any more bright ideas?", he asked, glancing at Joanna.
"Just one, honey.", Joanna replied, removing her mask. "We've got the advantage now, so it's showtime. Keep them busy, Jimmy."
John & Joanna continued down the alley while Jimmy took command.
"Let's use these trash can lids. The Sino-Supermen don't have the powers of the heroes they're copying yet, so they may be easy to take out. Just be careful.", he said.
Soon, a Kryptonian firebird appeared in the night sky over Metropolis, followed by a frost giant, approaching from the other side. Alphaman, one of the two Chinese Supermen, engaged Zan in battle, but was easily defeated, as Jimmy had guessed would happen. The Saltaires brothers tried to leave, but Jimmy blocked their path with his car. Jessie disarmed Victor, while Jimmy clocked Vincent with a left hook to the jaw.
"Game's over, boys. Merry Christmas.", he cracked.
A short time later, Inspector Henderson arrived, as did Superman, who'd spotted the firebird, only to find the twins in the area, having deactivated their powers. Jessie & Mary Lou hid in the car, out of sight of the Man of Steel.
"Moon talked, looking to turn state's evidence. He hadn't finalized any deals with the cartel behind these guys.", Superman said, glancing at the Saltaires brothers.
"Anyone we know?", Jayna asked.
"No, I'm afraid not.", Superman replied. "Would you mind if we had a little one-on-one in private?"
Soon, the Metropolis Marvel was on the roof with Jayna, alone.
"If you thought I didn't know about your little moonlighting project with your friends, you're mistaken.", he began. "I realize you were a little lonely without your brother, and I also believe Batman was a little harsh with you. I also know about your past exploits as a Night Phantom in Gotham."
"Robin must've told you."
"No, he didn't. When you and Jessie took down those rapists in LA a few months back, I was reminded of four hooded vigilantes who appeared briefly in Gotham before the end of the last school year, operating exclusively out of the high school. Batman----Bruce---was planning on having you & Lew be by yourselves in LA, but when the Watsons couldn't afford to send their son to UCLA, well, Robin made the suggestion that Jessie go with you so you wouldn't be alone. He saw some potential, and, after seeing you in action in both of your identities tonight, I agree with him."
"Oh, and don't worry. Dick and I can keep this a secret from Bruce. Since Dick's busy with Starfire these days, he said to tell you he'll try to find room to treat you to dinner sometime, or at the very least, make it a double date with you and Jimmy, since you've become so cozy with him of late."
Their secrets safe with Jessie, Jimmy, & Mary Lou, the twins resumed classes at college a month later. However, Joanna found out about Lew and the Army.
"Disappointed, roomie?", Jessie asked one night.
"No. I should've seen it coming. I remember the military pictures on the wall at Lew's, but I didn't think he'd take that step. In truth, Jess, I'm proud of him. The Army will help him mature, and maybe, just maybe, I'll be waiting for him when he comes back from boot camp."
"Hey, you never know how things'll turn out with Jimmy."
In chapter 4, a new peril arises, one that could alter the twins' lives forever.
Last edited by hobbyfan; 04-19-2012 at 09:03 PM.
After enlisting in the Army, Lew realized he missed Joanna more than ever, and sought to make it up to her. One way was by making a tape of acoustic music, covering a number of songs he'd heard on the radio, playing a guitar to supplement his vocals. He maintained a pen-pal correspondence with Joanna, but with spring break approaching, the prospect of a happy reunion has come up, with some consequences.............
Setting: March 1982.
"I'm sorry, girls, but I'm afraid I can't leave the base for even a day to see you while you're in Fort Lauderdale. You'll have to come up here to Fort Bragg instead."
Lew was on the pay phone on a rainy Thursday night. Joanna & Jessie were in their hotel in Fort Lauderdale on spring break.
"I think we can do that, Lew.", Joanna replied. "We're stopping in Chapel Hill to visit Jodi & Carl on the way back to LA, so finding Fort Bragg won't be a problem."
"Carl's been here already a couple of times.", Lew said. "Says that Jodi's looking forward not only to the baby, but also to getting married. He popped the question on New Year's Eve."
"So we heard.", Jessie said. "We're leaving Fort Lauderdale on Saturday morning, and we'll see you that afternoon."
"Private Watson, may I see you in my office a moment?"
Lt. Col. Nicholas Hitchcock, commanding officer at Fort Bragg, waved Lew into the office rather urgently. The teenager complied as Hitchcock closed the door and led him into the main office.
"Something wrong, sir?", he asked.
"No, not as it relates to you, Lew.", Hitchcock replied. "I understand you have visitors coming today."
"Yes, sir. My girlfriend and her roommate. Both were classmates of mine in high school."
"I see. As long as you keep it rather short, say about 2 hours maximum? I don't think there'll be too much trouble."
"I know you were looking to meet with Lt. Bailey last night after dinner, but couldn't find him."
"I asked around. We had a meeting scheduled. He said he was looking to shop the demo tape he & I made a couple of weeks back."
"That tape, Lew, cost him his life. Lt. Bailey was found by the riverbank this morning, drowned. From the looks of things, he was shot, too."
Lew thought about it for a moment. He then remembered something from the recording session.
"I recall hearing some gunfire when I was in the studio with Lt. Bailey.", he said. "At the time, we thought it was just someone at the practice range. Later that night, I heard about Private Slater having been shot, but I didn't know where it happened or why."
"It happens, Lew, that Slater was shot at the practice range, so you were on the right track. The problem is, whomever shot Slater knows the gunshots were on the tape. Lt. Bailey made copies of the tape, didn't he?"
"Yes, sir. One personal copy for me, one for my girlfriend, and the rest were for the record companies he had contacts with as a civilian."
"Do you know where he kept the tapes?"
"No, sir. I assumed they were in his personal quarters."
"That'll be all, Lew. Thank you."
"You're welcome, sir."
Lew saluted, turned on his heels and left. As he departed, Col. Steven Canby entered.
"Find out anything, sir?", he asked.
"Plenty. The boy's innocent as the driven snow, but he gave us an important lead. Sounds to me like he's had experiences like this before."
Later that afternoon, Jessie & Joanna arrived with Carl, who'd driven them from his home in Chapel Hill, and was to take them to the airport later that night so they could head back to Los Angeles. The three were given visitor's passes and taken to the barracks to meet with Lew. He quickly briefed them on the case, but gave no indication that he wanted the girls to investigate, making a point to mention that they only had 2 hours.
"Have the police been called?", Carl asked.
"The military police are handling it now, but I think the local cops may be called in before the day is out.", Lew replied. "Lt. Bailey was a mentor to me when I first came here two months ago. He was in the reserves, and owned a studio in New York. He had some contacts with some of the labels."
"I didn't know you could really sing.", Jessie cracked, reminding Lew that Joanna had put on a better show at the talent show a few months before.
"I was nervous that night, Jess."
"Look, I realize we can only be here a short time, but if you need any help, well....", Joanna offered.
"Thanks, honey, but you do need to be headed back to school by Monday to finish the season. The last thing anyone needs here is for you two girls to be snooping in the shadows."
In Metropolis, Mary Lou got her first look at the Hall of Justice in a private training session with Zan & Superman. Attired in a blue leotard and tights, her normal exercise gear, Mary Lou went through the same gymnastics program that Zan himself went through when he first came to the Hall 5 years earlier.
"You couldn't get her anything in purple?", Superman teased.
"Very funny, Superman.", Zan replied, "Or, as Jayna would say, real spacey."
"And how's she doing these days?"
"She's on vacation in Florida, and due to head back to LA later today."
"I still can't believe you confided in Mary Lou. I assume Jayna's got a similar situation with Jessie?"
"Yes, sir. In both cases, it was quite by accident, but we've known these girls since we began attending Gotham City High, so we felt comfortable, as long as they were sworn to secrecy."
"I will personally see to that. As a matter of fact, Batman is due on monitor duty in another 15 minutes, so I'll let Mary Lou use the showers, and....."
"Oh, no, that's okay. Let her wrap up, and then you can take us home. It'll be safer, and it'll give us some time."
A short while later, after Zan reverted back to John and Mary Lou had changed outfits, the couple headed out for dinner, only to be stopped by the telephone. It was Jodi.
"How's the baby?", Mary Lou asked.
"She's coming along fine. I say 'she' because I had a ultrasound done yesterday. Carl & I will have a baby girl come the end of June.", Jodi replied, "But that's not why I called. Carl just called from the hospital."
"The hospital? Why?"
"According to Carl, he, Joanna, & Jessie were leaving Fort Bragg. Lew led them to the gate and gave Joanna a goodbye kiss. She barely got about halfway to the car when she heard a gunshot. She turned around, and Lew was on the ground. Carl said she is so nervous and scared."
John listened to every word. He motioned to Mary Lou to give him the phone.
"Jodi? Listen to me carefully. If Carl calls back before heading home, tell him I'm on my way, and have him meet me at the airport ASAP."
"John, are you sure? You do have school on Monday.", Jodi replied.
"I know that, Jodi, but my sister needs me. I'll be there soon."
As he hung up, John turned to face Mary Lou.
"I'm sorry, honey, but this sort of thing can't wait. If anything happens to Lew, after everything he & Joanna have done to repair their relationship, she's going to be an emotional wreck.", he said.
"I understand, John. Are you sure you don't need me to go with you this time?"
"Positive. I don't think Jessie & Joanna took their Night Phantom clothes with them to Florida, and..."
"And so this could end up being a case for the Wonder Twins. I understand, babe. Be careful. You do know where you need to go, don't you?"
"Yes. The girls landed in Charlotte. Carl should be waiting for me there."
A few hours later, John reached the base hospital at Fort Bragg. Col. Canby gave him a quick briefing.
"Your sister has been in such a state since it happened. She won't leave her boyfriend's bedside.", he said.
"How badly was he hurt?"
"He was shot in the back. When I left, the doctors were working on taking the bullet out. Luckily, it's nowhere near his heart. Your friends are comforting your sister as we speak."
In the emergency room, John took a seat next to Joanna, who was deep in prayer along with Carl & Jessie. She felt her brother's presence and opened her eyes. John motioned for quiet and led her into the hall. She repeated what he'd already been told, then fell into her brother's arms.
"It's all my fault.", she sobbed. "If Lew hadn't made the tape for me, none of this would be happening."
Presently, Dr. Simon Kirkman met with the twins.
"Excuse me? Ms. Fleming? Your boyfriend will be just fine. There were no complications getting the bullet out, and he didn't lose too much blood. The MP's were on the scene rather quickly and saw to that.", he said.
Joanna let out a sigh of relief, and thanked the doctor. The twins then returned to the ER and found Lew was sleeping. Carl & Jessie were on their way out.
"They say he'll be fine, and that they'll keep in touch with me, and then I can relay any details to you guys.", Carl said. "You might as well head for home, but not until tomorrow."
Ah, but knowing Joanna like we do, she won't leave right away. But with her copy of the incriminating tape back in LA, she will have to take some time to find out what all the fuss is about. We'll pick up on that in chapter 5.
It had been a week since Lew had been shot. Discharged from the Army hospital, he called his parents back in Gotham City, then contacted Joanna.
"I really hate to sound like a mother hen, honey, but you're still a target down there.", she said, clearly still worried.
"Oh, and how would you know?", Lew inquired.
"I played the tape again after we got back here to LA.", Joanna replied. "I thought I heard something in the background besides the gunshots, so I checked it out with the police. They had one of their lab boys enhance the audio. Listen, and I'll play it for you."
Joanna placed the tape deck near the phone and turned it on. At the first chorus of "Bang! Bang! (She Shot Me Down)", an old Frank Sinatra song, the gunshots were heard, but before that, Private Marc Slater could be heard pleading with someone that "I didn't do it!" before the shots were fired. The other voice was slightly inaudible.
"I head my headphones on when I recorded, so this is the first I'm hearing this.", Lew said. "I think I can pick up the other voice on the tape."
"You can? How?"
"The guy's voice sounds familiar, as if he was stationed here."
"Don't try to be a hero, Lew.", Joanna warned.
In Metropolis, Daily Planet editor Perry White called Jimmy Olsen to his office. Olsen was being sent to Fort Bragg after another reporter, Pat Caldwell, had disappeared just days earlier.
"I would have Lois Lane go with you, due to her Army connections, but she's out of the country on another assignment.", White said. "You're on your own this time, Jimmy."
"I won't let you down.", came the reply, as Olsen left the office to pack for the trip.
"Mr. Caldwell was here a couple of days ago on a separate matter, interviewing recruits from your area, Mr. Olsen.", Lt. Col. Hitchcock said. "He left the base, but you say he never made it back to Metropolis?"
"No, sir.", Olsen replied. "You mentioned a "separate" matter?"
"I've had one recruit and one reserve officer killed in recent days. I cannot be certain if the killer is still on the base, or is based in the immediate area. I'm this close to putting the entire camp on lockdown if this guy strikes again. A second recruit was shot a week ago, and is just recovering. I can take you to him for an interview."
Jimmy met with Lew, who filled him in, blissfully unaware that they had a mutual girlfriend in Joanna, the next day. Suddenly, they heard some glass shatter, and Jimmy pulled Lew to the floor, just as a gunshot rang through the air.
"Stay right there.", Jimmy warned. "I'll try to find this guy."
OIsen raced out of the barracks and looked this way and that. No sign of the assassin. Again.
As a precaution, Lew was sent back to Gotham City the following morning. Jimmy returned to the Planet, where Perry theorized that Caldwell's disappearance might be tied to the murders of Private Slater and Lt. Bailey. He instructed Olsen to head for Gotham, believing that the killer might be following Lew there.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Joanna continued to work on the tape, further enhancing the background noise. Jessie was on the phone with police scientist David Ramirez, who had done the enhancements at police headquarters. Minutes later, she joined her roommate in the living room.
"Lt. Ramirez says he's got a make on the second voice in the background. He says Lew's safe for now, but by the weekend, maybe not.", she said.
"Then, that's when we'll make our move.", Joanna replied.
Three nights later, Ramirez got a visit from one of the Night Phantoms. It was Joanna, who'd built a professional relationship with Ramirez, almost to the point of flirting.
"I'm not surprised you'd take this case, Phantom.", Ramirez said.
"Let's just say it's a favor for a friend of a friend.", Joanna replied. "You left an ad in the paper for me, and it was not for a dinner date."
"It was the only way to reach you, senorita. Anyway, give a listen to this tape."
Joanna listened to the tape again. Now, she recognized the background voice that had threatened Slater.
"Thanks, Lt. Ramirez. You just told me who the Ft. Bragg killer is, and he's on his way to Gotham City as we speak. I need to leave to try to head him off."
"Ah, but perhaps we can have dinner sometime?"
"Maybe, if I can find a cocktail dress to substitute for my costume."
"Col. Canby, this is a surprise. We weren't expecting Lew to head back to Ft. Bragg so soon. He just came home 4 days ago."
Lew's mom had answered the door while her son was out. She had no idea why Canby had come, and he didn't betray his intentions, either.
"We've had a major breakthrough in the case, Mrs. Watson, and I was hoping to meet with Lew privately to arrange his return to the base and finish his basic training. Since he's not here, perhaps you can give him this message. That way, he can come see me.", Canby said, handing Mrs. Watson a note. Just then, Lew was returning with his father after a shopping trip.
"What is Col. Canby doing here?", he wondered to himself. Soon, however, he & his parents found themselves prisoners, as Canby drew his gun and directed them inside.
"Have you flipped?", Doug Watson inquired.
"No, not really.", Canby said menacingly. "You see, I've been involved in some other business that has nothing to do with the Army, but unfortunately has crossed over. In order to clean things up, I have to eliminate some rather unsightly loose ends, starting with your son."
"None of this would be happening if you hadn't shot Slater right in front of the studio.", Lew contended.
"You can blame that on Slater. He was looking to duck into the studio to get away. He owed me some money."
"And for what?", Lew asked. "Drugs? I could smell the marijuana in the air when I entered the barracks the first night. I for the life of me can't see how anyone could be into that stuff. That odor reeks."
"Oh, you really shouldn't have done that.", Canby replied icily. "None of this is meant to get out, and Slater would've been out on a Section 8 if he hadn't been so stupid. But, you had to go and report to Hitchcock about the smell in the air when you were nearly shot the other day. That reporter must've mentioned something, so I'll have to eliminate him, too."
Canby led them to the backyard. However, waiting for them were Batman & Robin.
"We heard every word.", the Teen Wonder said. "So, I suppose you have to eliminate us, as well."
"Oh, that would be the feather in my cap.", Canby said, as he pointed his gun squarely at Robin. Lew freed himself and tackled Canby, disarming him in the process.
"There will be no more death here, sir!", he shouted. "Not tonight!"
Canby threw him aside, and went for the gun, but Robin cut him off with a well placed batarang.
"It's over, Canby.", Batman intoned.
By the time the police arrived, the caped crusaders were gone, but they were never there in the first place. It was really the Wonder Twins in disguise, with Zan as Batman, and Jayna wearing Robin's form. With Robin away on a Teen Titans case, and Batman with the Justice League, no one would be the wiser. Later that night, Lew met up with the Twins at Robinson Park.
"I owe you two yet another debt of thanks.", he said. "Commissioner Gordon knew where the real Batman & Robin were, and that's how I knew it was you."
"It was the only way we could get close enough to Canby to capture him.", Zan said. "Joanna recognized his voice on the tape, and when he mentioned something about a major stash, there could only be one explanation. She then contacted us, said it was an emergency, and, well, you know the rest."
"You were pretty brave yourself, Lew.", Jayna added, resisting the urge to kiss him. "I guess you made the right choice after all."
"I did at that, and I can't wait to head back.", Lew replied.
"Oh, I'm afraid that's not going to happen.", Zan said. "Not right away, anyway. You see, on our way here, we found out your CO has arranged for you to be enrolled at West Point, and when you finish your studies there, he'll welcome you back for a 2 year hitch."
"It's not going to cost you a thing.", Jayna said. "Hitchcock said that it'd be better for you to go to the academy first."
"Oh, man! Wait 'til Joanna hears about this!", Lew exclaimed as he got back in his car & left.
"Of course, honey, she already knows.", Jayna thought to herself.
Ah, but our story's not over yet, because the next case is a little more personal for Jayna. What could possibly happen if someone like her were to fall victim to a gang assault? Join us in a few days for chapter 6.
Last edited by hobbyfan; 04-25-2012 at 11:41 AM.
Colonel Steven Canby was extradited back to North Carolina, where he stood trial later in the summer on murder charges. Lew was a character witness in the case, and his testimony was enough to send Canby to prison after a dishonorable discharge from the Army.
While in North Carolina, the twins, Lew, Jessie, & Mary Lou were on hand for the birth of Carl & Jodi's baby daughter, Carlene Jennifer, on July 4, and the announcement of the couple's engagement, with the wedding to take place New Year's Eve in Gotham City.
Now, it is the fall, and back to school, but in Los Angeles, Jessie & Joanna are dealing with a far more serious problem than anything they'd previously encountered, one that may have far reaching effects.........
Setting: October 1982.
"You're taking a huge chance being here alone, Phantom."
Lt. Ramirez was briefing Joanna on a series of gang rapes across the country, not just in Los Angeles. He was concerned that being a masked vigilante might not save the Night Phantom from being a victim.
"I've been following some leads on the case, Lieutenant.", Joanna replied. "The attacks here in the city are centered in one particular area, aren't they?"
"No, they're not, senorita.", Ramirez replied. "The Wild Wolves will strike anywhere, at any time. At first, I thought they might be just a localized group, but their membership spreads from here to New York. There've been reports of attacks in several major cities, including New York, Miami, Chicago, and Dallas. No one's ever seen who these men are without the wolf masks they wear, and there's always at least three or four of them, sometimes more. They only attack in the open air. They don't go into people's homes, as they don't like the confined space."
At that moment, a bulletin was read over the loudspeaker in the dispatcher's office and played throughout police headquarters. The Wolves had struck again. Joanna departed, through a window, and reached her car to head home. When she got there, however, she found two police cruisers in front of her building. She managed to get into the underground parking lot undetected, and used a women's room there to change outfits before using the elevator to reach her apartment. There, Jessie filled her in.
"They've issued a general alert.", she said. "We can't go out alone at night, not even to go to the market. We can't even go to the dance clubs."
"Ramirez is worried that either one of us, as the Night Phantom, could be vulnerable, Jess.", Joanna replied, as she entered her room.
"So? That's never stopped you before!"
"This time, it does.", Joanna replied, returning to the living room. "The Night Phantom is going on a little hiatus. Ramirez is right. It is a little too dangerous for us to be on patrol while those animals are out there."
"Time to call in reinforcements?"
"The only reinforcement we'll need is my brother. There's no school on Monday for Columbus Day, so he's coming in Saturday morning to spend a couple of days here. Mary Lou's coming with him, of course."
"I get it. There's still going to be 2 Phantoms, but now joined by the Wonder Twins.", Jessie replied excitedly.
"Exactly. Why do you think I have my other costume stored away in my room for such emergencies?"
Three nights later, the LA chapter of the Wild Wolves held a meeting at their headquarters, an abandoned pool hall in El Barrio. Fernando Mendoza, the group's leader, called for quiet.
"It seems the Night Phantom has disappeared, amigos. She realizes she hasn't a prayer against us any more than any other chica.", he said. "The streets are ours. The parks are ours. The pigs cannot stop us!"
"All well & good.", Cameron Elliott said. Elliott was a student at UCLA, and also an advance scout for the Wolves who'd been advocating expanding their operations to include at-home attacks.
"There is a 'but' somewhere, isn't there, Cameron?", Mendoza asked.
"Yes, there is. The Phantom has been seen in the area around Parker Center, and that means she has a police contact that's warned her away. The cops will have a greater presence, but, like you said, it won't matter."
"Even the lady pigs can be had under the right circumstances.", Carlos Ferbles said. "And the Phantom is a lady pig under that mask, I'm sure of it."
"No, she isn't.", Elliott said. "I think she's a student. Just exactly where she goes to school, I don't know, but she realizes she's in over her head, so she's retreating. For how long, I don't know."
"And how would you know if she's a student?", Mendoza inquired.
"A policewoman can't risk moonlighting and wearing a mask. A civilian can. I figure Phantom's relatively young, right around our age. I can snoop around and see what I can find at school."
The next day, John & Mary Lou arrived from Metropolis and stayed overnight with Joanna & Jessie.
"Jimmy Olsen sends his love, sis, and wishes he could be here, but he's working on a big story back in Metropolis.", John said. "Have you heard anything from Lew?"
"Got a letter from him the other day, but I wish I didn't.", Joanna replied, soberly. "He's found someone else at West Point, and he's trying to remain faithful to me, but I don't know this time."
"Oh, not again.", Mary Lou said. "That boy has developed a roving eye."
Abruptly, the police scanner blared with a report of a body found in a dumpster near Chan's Chinese Restaurant. It was still daylight, and that meant that the police had found another of the Wolves' victims. John left to investigate, promising to return as soon as possible. About an hour later, he returned, stopping to pick up a pizza on the way back.
"Does the name Anna Chamberlain ring a bell, girls?", he asked.
"Sure does.", Jessie replied. "She lived here in the building until a month ago, when she moved out and went back to her parents' house when this all started."
"Well, sad to say, the Wolves went a little too far this time. They left her bound, gagged, and naked in the dumpster. A cook found her just as the restaurant opened this morning, and had to chase away the rats that were in there. What the Wolves started, the rats finished."
"I'm afraid so, Jess. She's dead."
Later that same night, the Wonder Twins made a rare appearance. Jayna took on the guise of a bloodhound, but Zan opted not to change, and kept his sister on a leash. They searched for clues at the restaurant, while Jessie & Mary Lou cruised through Cinader Park in Jessie's car, a 1979 Chevy Nova. After about an hour, the four convened near one of the city's public libraries.
"Find anything, lover?", Mary Lou asked.
"No, honey. The rats may have ate whatever evidence was left."
"Not only that", Jayna added, "but the Wolves may have kept whatever money Anna had with her for themselves and probably spent it already. Give them this. They cover their tracks well."
"Anna's parents were notified by the police.", Jessie said. "They've offered to put up a reward for the capture of those punks."
Abruptly, the sounds of sirens caught the attention of the four teenagers. A police cruiser pulled up, and Officer Nelson Harper recognized the Twins. After introductions, he gave them a quick briefing. Soon, Zan & Jayna were at Greenwood High, where another victim, Tara Conover, had been found, bound & gagged, and stripped to her underwear. Once freed, she told them what had happened.
"There were three of them. They hit me from behind, and the next thing I know, I'm being trussed up like a turkey, stripped of my clothes, and they wanted to rape me right out in the open. They heard sirens, and left, the cowards."
"Where's your clothes?", Zan asked.
"They stole them so they can have a trophy of some kind.", Tara replied.
"Either that, or they'll pawn them off.", Jayna suggested. "Did they say anything about where they were going?"
"No. They were too smart for that. However, they've been at Cinader Park every night this week. That girl that was killed was raped there last night, and then they dumped her in that dumpster to throw the cops off the trail."
Tara explained that she was Anna's roommate until Anna moved out, and Tara's brother, Tommy, moved in. At the police station, Tommy was understanably irate.
"Those animals have no respect for decency. They rape my sister and her ex-roommate, steal their clothes and money, and leave them to die? The Cunninghams, I understand, offered a reward. It's only fitting, then, that I be the one to collect!"
"I don't think that's such a good idea.", Zan warned. "These guys sound like the type that could turn around and do the same thing to you."
"Not when I have an equalizer.", Tommy replied, showing a switchblade, and a gun hidden under his jacket. "If I were you, dude, I'd make sure your sister switches to one of her animal forms for protection. If they see her, they'll come for her, too."
"He's got a point, sis.", Zan warned as the Twins returned to Jessie & Joanna's apartment and deactivated their powers. "I hate to say it, but..."
"I get it, brother.", Jayna replied, icily. "I'm a target in all three of my identities. Terrific. It's nice to be wanted, but not like this."
Once inside, they found Mary Lou listening to the police scanner. Jessie was nowhere to be seen. A report then confirmed their worst fears.
"They got to Jessie.", Zan said quietly. "Back to work we go."
Soon, John, Mary Lou, & Joanna reached the hospital. Jessie had been stripped, just like the other victims, and bound and gagged, and as with Tara, police sirens chased the Wolves away. A passerby flagged down a cruiser, and an ambulance was called.
"There were three of them. Probably the same three that attacked Tara.", Jessie said, haltingly. "They took my clothes and purse, tied me up, put tape on my mouth, and started to rape me when they heard the sirens. They left me in my underwear, just like Tara."
"Luckily, there is nothing of value in the purse.", Joanna said, "except for a homing device we can use by remote control." She pulled out a remote from her purse and turned it on.
"How did you manage that?", John asked. "Wait. Don't tell me. Your police friends."
"Lt. Ramirez is like you, brother, handy with electronics in his spare time."
"I left my wallet at home.", Jessie said. "Good thing, eh?"
"Good thing is right, roomie.", Joanna replied. "I don't suppose they said anything about where they were going?"
"Actually, they did. Something about the barrio."
In chapter 7, we'll find out if Jayna can function alone, especially since Zan & Mary Lou have to return to Metropolis, where they'll find it isn't quite so safe anymore, either........
Last edited by hobbyfan; 04-29-2012 at 08:09 PM.
Jessie was discharged from the hospital the next day after being kept overnight. She was bruised but not battered. Shaken, but not stirred, to use her own description. Still, she had a very important lead she didn't give to the police.
"I knocked the mask off one of the Wolves.", she told Joanna. "It was Cameron Elliott."
"The snobby prep school graduate?"
"The same. I guess not everyone is satisfied being rich."
"No, they're not, roomie. I'm figuring Cameron will be back at school on Tuesday. I think one of us wil have a little talk with him."
"Oh, no, Jo. I'd keep my distance from him. Cameron followed us home a couple of times when the school year started. He may have been scouting us from the start."
"Then how do you expect me to get an angle on him?"
"We ask around."
Curiously, Cameron didn't return to class on Tuesday morning, and neither did the other Wolves. Just the same, Joanna met with Tommy Conover at the campus library after class.
"Elliott's a thrill-seeking pervert. Tara told him more than once to chase himself around the block, but in more graphic terms than that, and she landed in the hospital, same as your roommate.", Conover said. "Him and his buddies are probably lying low, and their absence is only making things worse. It's marking them as guilty."
"How many are there in the Wolves?", Joanna asked. "I ask because it seems you have an ear to the ground on these things."
"I do, because Carlos Ferbles is a former friend of mine. He used us, robbed us blind. Tara caught him stealing the rent money one night and had him arrested. He swore revenge, and, well, I think you get the idea."
"So, everything ties together."
"Something like that. To answer your question, Joanna, just to satisfy your curiosity, there's 10 guys altogether. The Mendoza brothers are the front men. Fernando, Ricardo, Luis, and Felipe. High school dropouts, all of them. After them, there's Carlos, Cam Elliott, the Sandovals--that would be Ernesto and Luis---Jaime Vasquez, and Jacinto Ramirez. Elliott is the oddity because he's the only white boy in the group."
"And he is in because he has the money to fund their activities."
"Exactly. Anna dumped Elliott because she caught him cheating on her with Jacinto's sister."
Later that night, Jessie & Joanna were studying when they heard a commotion outside their building. Jessie peered out the window, and saw a police cruiser parked out front once again. Lt. Ramirez emerged from the car, along with Officer Melinda Caswell, and..........Jacinto. Joanna's blood froze as she realized Jacinto was the lieutenant's younger brother. The phone rang, and Joanna answered. She & Jessie were asked to report to the community room, along with the other female tenants.
"My brother has something he'd like to say.", David Ramirez began. "Please give him your undivided attention."
"It shames me to say this,", Jacinto said, "but I have to confess to my part in the Wild Wolves' attacks. I have worked here on and off as a handyman for the last two years, and I've gotten to know some of you ladies, and I regret that my brothers in the Wolves took advantage of those acquaintances. Anna Cunningham is dead because of the neglect of my brothers. They left her to die, even when I told them they shouldn't."
"So you're wimping out on your so-called brothers?"
Tommy Conover barged into the room, wielding a shotgun, but was disarmed by a security guard.
"Tommy, hear him out!", Jessie cried.
"Why should I? He and his idiot friends killed Anna, and nearly did the same to you and Tara!"
"I deserve whatever happens.", Jacinto said. "I betrayed my trust in Anna................because she was the mother of my child."
A hush came over the room. Jacinto had a 6 month old son, Jacinto, Jr., by Anna, and the child was now in the care of Jacinto's parents. Like the Mendozas, Jacinto had shamed his brother and their family by dropping out of school. Now, his brother was being forced to read him the Miranda Rights as Jacinto was arrested.
"Jacinto, one question.", said Joanna. "Did the Wolves know about your relationship with Anna?"
"No, senorita. That is why I am so ashamed."
Jacinto was released on bail later in the evening, but, four nights later, was found dead in Cinader Park, having been executed by his former friends. Zan's warning to Tommy Conover turned out to be prophetic in a way.
The following night, John, Mary Lou, & Jimmy Olsen arrived in LA for another weekend stakeout. Joanna & Jessie rode with Jimmy as the Night Phantoms and scoured Cinader Park for more clues, canvassing the area as they went. Mary Lou & John stayed in the apartment, monitoring the police scanner. Around midnight, a call went out on another Wild Wolves attack. John used his communicator to contact his sister, but got no response. He then contacted Jimmy.
"The last I knew, she was pursuing a lead not far from here.", Jimmy reported, "However, once she got out of visual range......"
"Say no more, Jimmy!", John replied. "We're on our way!"
Abruptly, Jessie returned to the car and got Jimmy's attention.
"They got Joanna!", she cried. "Five on one, and she never had a chance. Last I saw, they were taking her to the theatre in the back of the park!"
"Get in!", Jimmy commanded.
Seconds later, they reached the Webb Theatre, and found the remains of Joanna's costume. Her two layered mask had been torn to shreds, along with her leotards and hose.
"I've got a towel back there. I had a feeling we'd need it.", Jimmy said, pointing back to the back seat. "John & Mary Lou are on their way, but they may be too late."
Jessie climbed up the wall of the theatre, taking care not to be seen. She peered into the window, and saw Joanna, bound, gagged, and naked, drawn and quartered on a table. She quickly reversed field, and climbed back down, as John pulled in.
"Where is she?", he inquired.
"Inside.", Jessie replied. "I hope you don't have modesty issues as it relates to your sister."
Inside, two Wolves stood over Joanna. If they only knew what a prize catch they had.
"You thought you had this all figured out, didn't you?", one said. "All you did was give away your other identity as the Night Phantom, when you started asking questions."
"After tonight,", another Wolf said, "you may be regretting the life you've been leading."
He pulled out a switchblade. Joanna recognized it immediately, and, again, her blood froze. Abruptly, the lights went out in the building before the Wolves could begin their assault. Next instant, two more Night Phantoms-----Jessie & Mary Lou----appeared, and, along with John & Jimmy, engaged the Wolves. Now, the sides were even, and the Wolves were quickly routed.
As the lights were turned on, Jimmy wrapped a towel around Joanna. The Wolves were unmasked to reveal Carlos Ferbles, Jaime Vasquez, Ernesto & Luis Sandoval, and.........Tommy Conover.
"Tommy? How could you?"
"Do you really want to know the truth, Joanna? These idiots killed the wrong woman all right. They weren't supposed to kill Anna."
"I know why.", Jimmy cut in. "They were supposed to kill your sister because she found out about your secret involvement with the Wolves. Anna had just moved out of the apartment, but on the night she was snatched, she was housesitting while Tara was doing some shopping. Jacinto knew, but he wasn't in on the raiding party. He said you didn't know until after the fact, and that was why you were so upset. You weren't mourning, and when they failed a second time, you decided to take matters into your own hands. When Joanna innocently asked you about what you knew, she was contacted by the Night Phantoms to wear one of their uniforms for a night as an advance scout. The Phantoms happen to be as well organized, if not better, than you."
"Why was Tommy part of the Wild Wolves in the first place? I still don't understand that part.", Jessie inquired after returning home.
"The way I figure it, Jessie, Cam Elliott got to him and offered him fast money.", Joanna said as she donned a brand new Night Phantom costume. "By the way, Jimmy, thanks for saving the secret of the Phantoms."
"No problem, honey. Now, the Wolves' Los Angeles membership's been cut in half, and they can't relay any knowledge of the Phantoms back to the Mendozas."
"Just so you know, Joanna,", Mary Lou put in, "your brother & Jimmy shut down the Metropolis chapter the other day. That was the big story Jimmy was working on a week ago."
"I had a feeling. Now, let's see if the Wolves make any more moves."
A short time later, Joanna modeled her new Night Phantom costume for Lt. Ramirez.
"A little more streamlined, I see. Most exquisite, senorita.", he said, beaming.
"I am sorry to hear about your brother.", Joanna said.
"It is nothing. Jacinto made his peace with God before the Wolves killed him, virtually right under my nose. I take it you have some idea which one it was?"
"Tommy Conover did it. I don't think he realizes it, but the Mendozas set him up to take a fall."
"And how did you come to this conclusion?"
"He lied about Ferbles being a former friend. He knew Jacinto wanted out of the group after his girlfriend was killed, so Ferbles and Elliott fed Tommy's rage about his own sister being the real target, and they had set up Jacinto to take a fall, but Tommy was going to be next, followed by Ferbles & Elliott. I think the Mendozas were going to shut things down here anyway as the heat was getting to be too much for them, and Elliott had been ID'd by the last victim."
"Then, how do we link the Mendozas to the rest of the Wolves?"
"I've got a plan."
"Then I have one piece of advice for you, senorita.", Ramirez said as he pulled Joanna closer.
"And that is?"
"Be careful. If you can wrap this up within a week, I will prepare a lavish dinner for you and I and you can wear your cocktail dress."
He lifted the brim of Joanna's mask, and kissed her, then put her hands in his.
"You remind me so much of the legendary Fox himself, Zorro, as if you might be a descendant of his, and as Zorro charmed the ladies, you have used your dark, mysterious, feminine wiles to charm a lonely man such as myself. I am in love with you, my faceless friend.", he said.
Before Joanna could answer, a call came over the intercom. As Ramirez answered, Joanna pulled down the brim of her mask and left, crawling down the wall to her car, and heading for home.
We are speeding toward the conclusion. Joanna now has another suitor in Lt. Ramirez, but where does she stand with Jimmy? Or with Lew, whom we'll hear from in the next chapter.
Two nights had passed, and Jessie & Joanna were doing some stretching exercises at home when the phone rang. Joanna sprung up and picked up on the 2nd ring, but abruptly slammed the receiver down.
"What's wrong?", Jessie asked.
"Check the window, roomie.", Joanna said. "Use the binoculars on the table".
Jessie, clad in a red leotard and tan nylons, did as told. She spotted three men in an apartment across the street who had been watching them work out. One of them was Cameron Elliott.
"Those perverts!", she snapped, as she handed the binoculars to Joanna, dressed in a blue leotard and tights. "They've been watching us."
"It's easy to see why.", Joanna replied, as she glanced down at her own leotard, soaked with perspiration from a nearly 2 hour workout. Jessie, though, wasn't wearing a bra under her leotard, and, as a result, garnered the attention of Elliott and his friends.
"Next time, we close the curtains before we turn the music on.", Jessie snapped. "That way, there're no peeping Toms to worry about."
"Didn't you warn me about that when we first moved here?", Joanna asked.
"I did. Problem was, the building across the street didn't have anyone living in it."
"Oh, I don't think Cameron's living there, not when he's got a dorm on campus. He may have rented the space for the night."
"With his money, yeah, that makes sense. What do we do about it, roomie?"
"I'll talk to the building manager in the morning, and then, we'll talk to the dean of students. Elliott must've gotten our phone number from the school office."
Elliott was the last of the Wild Wolves still free. Fernando Mendoza had left for New York to join his brothers, but federal agents had captured him shortly upon arriving, thanks to evidence that Jessie, Jimmy, Mary Lou, & the twins had gathered in LA. Back on campus, Elliott acted like nothing was wrong, and had persuaded his dorm mates, Allan Keever and Mark Griffin, to rent the apartment to spy on Joanna & Jessie. The fact that the Night Phantom had stepped up her campaign against the Wolves after Jessie'd been attacked convinced Elliott he knew who she was. Jimmy's cover story didn't deter him in the least bit.
Around 10 am on Wednesday morning, Elliott was called into the dean's office.
"I have here a complaint that says you and your roommates rented an off-campus apartment last night and made some lewd calls and spied on two students in an apartment across the street.", Dean Warren Hamilton said. "Care to explain this?"
"Why should I? My buds and I just wanted to scout the local action.", Elliott replied, defiant.
"With the wolfpack having been jailed, I would think the ladies could feel safe, but clearly, they're still not, especially with punks like you hassling them."
Moments later, Officer Caswell entered, accompanied by her patrol partner, Officer Robert Malcolm. Elliott was placed under arrest on charges of harassment, theft of services, and, most importantly, several counts of statutory rape and attempted rape.
"One of the complaintants says you were one of the men who attacked her a few nights ago,", Caswell said. "She can pick you out of a lineup later today."
"You can't prove a thing.", Elliott protested.
Elliott had forgotten about his mask, which had been picked up at the scene of the attack on Jessie. He'd rented the apartment under a false name with no intention of paying for the room, and putting it on the university's bill, which he didn't have authority to do.
A month later, the gang reunited in Gotham City, but Lew was unable to bring his new girlfriend, Sgt. Freeman, with him, from West Point. They couldn't take the risk of being seen in a public place and have someone report back to the academy, so Vanessa was spending her holiday with her family in Pennsylvania. Christmas, he promised, would be different. He then left with Joanna, so he could talk things out with her in private. He'd heard what had happened in LA and was understandably worried.
"I'm fine, Lew, as you can see. The Wolves are gone. Nothing to worry about.", Joanna assured him.
"I wish I could share your enthusiasm, honey.", Lew replied. "But I can't, and I'll tell you why. One of my bunkmates found out his sister was raped just before he left for home in New York. One of the attackers left behind a mask, shaped like a wolf."
"Oh, no!", Joanna gasped.
"Seems the Wild Wolves don't care about the law or anyone other than themselves. Maybe it's just as well that Vanessa isn't here, and that way, I can spend as much time as I can with you, to make up for lost time. 'Sides, based on what you told me yourself, not even being dressed as Night Phantom prevented you from getting attacked."
"It never ends, does it?"
"Now you understand why I wanted to go into the military. When I enlisted, it was with the idea that I could be more protective of you than I was before. Never mind the fact that you can take care of yourself in most cases. When I met Vanessa, I found my soulmate, but I also realize she can help me learn a lot of things. I hope you understand, Jo."
"I do. I resigned myself to the notion that our relationship was over, and I can only wish you the very best. You just have to keep your promise to bring your new lady home next month."
"I will, Joanna, I promise."
After a hectic day of shopping on Black Friday, Joanna was surprised to find JImmy waiting for her at the boarding house, offering to take her to dinner, but on one condition. Jimmy was actually taking Jayna on a double-date, not Joanna.
"Give me 15 minutes to get ready, Jimmy!", Joanna exclaimed.
In less than 10, blonde, vivacious Joanna was gone, and in her place was raven-haired Jayna, attired in a form fitting velvet evening dress, with black sheer hose and elbow length gloves. To her surprise, Jimmy led her to a lavish 5-star restaurant in Gotham, where Dick "Robin" Grayson was waiting with Princess Koriand'r, aka Starfire, Dick's new girlfriend and Teen Titans teammate. Kory was curious as to whether or not Dick could pair Zan up with someone, unaware of Zan's relationship with Mary Lou. After dinner and a movie, Jimmy brought his date home, arriving through the back door for obvious reasons.
"I know this isn't the way it's supposed to be, but under the circumstances...", Jimmy said.
"You get used to it after a while, honey.", Jayna beamed. The two kissed, long, deep, and passionate, before Jimmy departed. Jayna then ventured into the living room, only to find that Zan hadn't returned home. Professor Nichols was out of town, so Jimmy could've stayed if he wanted. However, it wasn't long before Jayna realized she wasn't alone at all. She heard a noise, but before she could turn around, and investigate, all she found was sudden darkness..............
It was about midnight when Zan finally returned home after a date with Mary Lou. He found the door was ajar, and walked carefully inside. Entering the living room, he found it was a mess, and found Jayna's shoes on the floor beside the sofa. Abruptly, he heard some muffled screaming coming from upstairs.
"Oh, no! Not again!", he thought to himself as he raced up the stairs and entered his sister's room. Sure enough, Jayna was bound, gagged, and naked, tears welling up in her eyes. Her dress and nylons were in tatters on the floor, and there was a note, pinned to her bound wrists. Zan quickly freed his sister, then stepped out of the room to let her get dressed. Minutes later, Jayna staggered out, still shaken from her ordeal, and holding the burlap hood used to capture her hours earlier. Now in costume, she wanted to head out after her attackers, but Zan had other ideas.
"I hate to say it, sis, but this is not the night to go hunting.", he said.
"Oh? Take a look at what they did to my dress!", Jayna screamed. "That's the second pair of nylons they've ruined."
"They? I thought Elliott was behind bars."
"I thought so, too, but he did all the talking and bragging. Said it was his biggest score yet. He has no idea what he's done. No idea!"
Uh-oh! It seems the Wild Wolves, or what's left of them, picked the wrong victim this time. They may have bitten off more than they can chew, and as we'll see in the concluding chapter, they might be wishing they hadn't done it.
Last edited by hobbyfan; 05-07-2012 at 02:21 PM.
Zan examined the note the Wolves had left with Jayna. His blood soon turned cold.
"Do you have any idea if Jimmy's staying in town?", he asked.
"I think so. He said he was renting a room for the night. Why?", came the reply.
"We're going to need his help on this. Along with Robin & Starfire."
"Not sure about that. I think those two headed back to New York already. Kory was in an awful hurry to head back after the movie. I know which hotel Jimmy's gone to, though."
"Good enough.", Zan replied as he started the professor's car. "Get in. I'll drop you off at the hotel, and I'll pick up Mary Lou & Jessie. They're both in danger."
Soon, with Jessie & Mary Lou in Night Phantom gear, the four teens and Jimmy met at Robinson Park as Zan laid out a course of action.
"Elliott got a little too brazen this time.", he said. "He picked the lock on the door at the boarding house, waiting until the professor had left for the weekend."
"That still doesn't explain how he's figured everything out.", Jessie said.
"Actually, it does.", Zan replied. "Elliott is from here in Gotham. I think he might know you girls from high school, and......"
"And I think I get it, honey.", Mary Lou replied. "I remember now. He was expelled as a sophomore and his folks sent him to a private, all boys school in Connecticut. He raped one of the gym teachers, as I recall, and that's how the Wolves really started. Keevern & Griffin, his new pals, are actually his original partners. They still live here in the city, and flew to LA to join him when the rest of the LA Wolves were busted. If I remember correctly, he used to work on the school paper as a photographer, and I believe he took pictures at crime scenes of some of your earliest cases."
"It's all starting to fit.", Jimmy put in. "He must've photographed you and Jayna, Zan, and then, when he saw you two as John & Joanna, he read the body language or something."
"That something is a photographic memory.", Mary Lou replied. "When Jayna had to resort to using the hair dye upon moving to LA, Elliott could read her facial features, and, in effect, could see right through her disguise. He never let the other Wolves in LA in on it, because he wanted Jayna for himself. He's been obsessed with her from the beginning."
"And how do you know that, Mary?", Zan asked.
"Elliott's family lives in my neighborhood. I used to date that creep before he tried raping one of our other neighbors, an autistic girl. I dumped him then, and told him I wanted nothing further to do with him until he changed his ways."
"So he's targeting us because of guilt by association.", Jessie added. "Good thing Jodi's not here."
"Just as well.", Jayna replied, putting her hand in Jimmy's for support. She then turned to the reporter.
"Jimmy, honey, I need you to make sure I don't go completely out of control on this one. The only thing I'm interested in is putting Elliott out of commission for good, so that he doesn't go after any more women. His kind need to be treated like the animals they are."
"I'm with you all the way on this, Jay. I know what to do."
"What is wrong with you two idiots?", Elliott demanded as Keevern & Griffin returned empty-handed from a raid. "I told you we needed to corral three more bimbos to lure our targets here. I told you we would put an end to the Night Phantoms right here tonight, and take the Wonder Twerps down with them. I collect the scalp of that little minx, and she'll be mine forever, as I said would happen when I first met her five years ago."
"It's just like it was in LA.", Allan Keevern said. "The city's under a curfew for its teens and young adults. No one's roaming the streets."
"We might as well go home.", Mark Griffin said. "Once the heat's off, then we can start home invasions."
"The heat's never going to be turned off, moron.", Elliott snapped. "I can't return to LA, but I'll make sure that shape-shifting slut doesn't, either."
"Oh, I'm a slut, am I?", Jayna hissed as she crouched in her hiding place, ready to strike. Jimmy held her close to relax her.
"No, honey. Elliott is frustrated by the fact that out of the boyfriends you've accumulated, he's not one of them, and he thinks he's meant to be with you. Let's stick to the plan."
"Ok, we will, I promise. We just have to wait for Zan's signal."
Zan, meanwhile, was across the way, with Jessie & Mary Lou stationed in the trees. As the Wolves began to leave the park, rather reluctantly, the girls pounced, dropping down on Keevern & Griffin. Elliott turned and went after Jessie first, but Zan cut him off.
"Not this time, creep. Game's over on account of sanity!", he exclaimed as he blasted Elliott with a right hook. Elliott staggered back to his feet, and then took a boxer's pose.
"So you want to fight, alien? Fine. I'll be happy to see you bleed.", he snarled.
Meanwhile, Jayna, wearing the form of a wolf, had climbed up to a tree herself. Elliott backpedaled into position, and Jimmy made the signal.
"Now, honey! You've got him!", he called. Jayna dove off the tree and tackled Elliott, who threw her off and began to run. Jayna chased him, with Jimmy following behind as the girls tied up Keevern & Griffin.
"Stay with her, Jimmy!", Zan called. "We'll be with you shortly!"
Elliott found his way into an alley, thinking he could climb the wall and evade his pursuers. Problem was, he picked a dead end alley, and Jayna was closing fast. She leaped again and pinned him against the wall. Again, he threw her off, then pulled out a knife.
"So you want to play rough? Let this be on your epitaph!", he snarled. He raised the knife, but Jimmy knocked it out of his hand, then dropped Elliott with a wicked right cross. Elliott staggered up, but Jayna knocked him back down. Growling, she tore at his shirt, and went right for the neck, but Jimmy stopped her.
"Forget it, baby, it's over. He's out."
"After what he did to me, he deserves worse than that."
"Jay, remember what you said earlier. You needed me to keep you from going out of control. You're on the brink of doing just that! Remember your training! We don't kill!", Jimmy exclaimed.
Jayna turned her attention to Jimmy, who put his hand on her neck, rubbing it, relaxing her again.
"It's over, honey. We've got him. Now, it's up to the law."
Soon, Zan pulled up in the car. Jessie quickly bound Elliott and threw him in the trunk with the other boys. The three were dropped off at police headquarters soon after.
The next morning, Elliott, Keevern, & Griffin were booked on attempted rape. Attempted because, just like in LA, they were scared away by the sound of police sirens. Something Mary Lou chalked up to Elliott's earlier rape in Gotham City, four years earlier.
"Ever since he was tossed from GCHS, he's had a fear of police sirens. The 2 1/2 years he spent in the academy didn't cure him completely, and it didn't curb his urges, either.", she said.
"But there's still one problem.", Jayna put in. "He still has knowledge of my true identity."
"No, he doesn't, super sis.", Zan said as he came out of headquarters. "Elliott was taken to the hospital with some severe head trauma, probably from what we did to him. He's suffering from amnesia in that he can't remember his own name."
"Not only that, doll,", Jimmy added, "but his two buddies turned state's evidence against him, so they'll testify against him at the trial."
"I'm not so sure about the amnesia.", Mary Lou said. "He's used that dodge before."
"Not this time, honey. Jayna spiked his head into the concrete after Jimmy knocked him down. I think my sister knew what she was doing."
"Let's hope you're right, Zan. I'd like to hope that's the last we'll see of the Wild Wolves."
And it would be. Fernando Mendoza & his brothers also turned state's evidence and admitted Cameron Elliott was the real leader of the Wolves, as well as their financial backer. The Wolves would serve 2-3 years in prison each, except for Elliott, who, because of the greater charges against him, would get 10-life.
A month later, Jodi & Carl were married. Jessie caught the bouquet, much to her surprise. Jimmy was Joanna's date that night, as Lew came with Vanessa. Even though they were still cordial, it was the end for Lew & Joanna, once and for all. Jodi & Carl honeymooned in Hawaii, and sent pictures along for the gang.
Upon returning to LA, Joanna was in for another shock. Lt. Ramirez, the Night Phantom's #1 fan, had left the LAPD and had moved to Chicago in a similar position. He felt the need for a clean break after his brother's death.
After the school year ended, Joanna & Jessie transferred out of UCLA. Joanna would join John & Mary Lou at Metropolis, which would enable the Wonder Twins to return to full-time duty after 2 years, while Jessie returned home to Gotham City and enrolled at Hudson University in suburban New Carthage. For now, the Night Phantoms had solved their last case, as the girls decided to hang up their black hoods & tights.
End Book 5.
Last edited by hobbyfan; 06-25-2012 at 02:49 PM.