Preamble: When we last left Zan & Jayna, they'd left Gotham City & Metropolis for Florida to join their guardian, Prof. Carter Nichols, in retirement. It's been a year, but now Jayna has a yearning to return to Metropolis and her fiance, Daily Planet reporter-photographer Jimmy Olsen. Separation anxiety is one thing, but there's something else that prompts this turn of events, as you'll soon see. Disclaimer: All characters, other than incidentals created for this story, are copyright DC Comics/Warner Bros./Hanna-Barbera. Setting: June 1986. Chapter 1: Ernie & Alice Winslow had retired from the Metropolis School District in early June, and now, they were being feted again, this time by the residents of the Sunset Hills Apartments, which the Winslows had called home for 11 years. Ernie had been a custodian in the MSD for 40 years, the last 20 spent at Metropolis High. Alice worked in the school cafeteria at MHS for 31 years, and met Ernie, her 2nd husband, when he came to MHS in 1966. The Sunset Hills staff rented the Italian Community Center for the party, since their community room was too small, and the Winslows were so beloved in the city. The Winslows' three grown sons---Ernie, Jr., Elvin, and Emmett----hosted the party, and were facilitating their parents' move to Miami. The Daily Planet was well represented, as Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, & Lois Lane attended. All three were MHS alumni, and Perry, in fact, had been a classmate of Ernie's at MHS. Lois acted like Jimmy was her date, and not a co-worker on this night, but if Jimmy knew something was wrong, he didn't let on. He went about his business, conducting interviews and taking pictures, gathering notes for a feature piece that would appear in the Sunday Planet. The party broke up at 9, as people were already leaving well before then. Perry & Jimmy walked out to the parking lot, but there was no sign of Lois. Perry assumed she was still busy interviewing the Winslows. "She should be along shortly.", he said. "She has her own car, so she'll be fine." When Lois didn't emerge 10 minutes later, Perry & Jimmy left and headed back to the office. Once there, Perry hustled to his private office. Lois was already there, but things weren't what they seemed. "Did I miss anything, chief?", Lois asked. "Only the Winslows' retirement party.", Perry replied. "Jimmy doesn't know this, I think, but there was a more than capable substitute on hand to cover for you." "Oh? That means you did get in touch with her." "Yes. She stayed behind, and she'll catch up to Jimmy her own way later on. I'd say he doesn't suspect a thing, but then...." Jimmy filed his story, then left the office. No sooner than he'd pulled out of the Planet parking lot, than his police band radio blared a report of a shooting at Sunset Hills. He reached for his car phone and let Perry know what happened, and that he'd follow the story. "Keep me posted, Jimmy.", White said. Minutes later, Jimmy was at Sunset Hills, where Inspector Bill Henderson and his major crimes unit was already on the scene. "What happened here, Bill?", Jimmy asked. "Prowler ambushed the Winslows as soon as they got back from their retirement party.", Henderson replied as he admitted the reporter. Jimmy started taking pictures, and noticed that the Winslows had each been shot in the head and the heart. They wouldn't be going to Miami after all. "Have their sons been contacted?" "EJ, the oldest, is on his way over." "Inspector! The prowler's still here!", Officer Mike Clancy shouted, seeing a black-garbed figure on the window ledge. The Winslows were on the 2nd floor. The intruder moved quickly to avoid being seen, but Jimmy knew right away Clancy made a mistake. "I'll see if I can flag him down.", he told Henderson as he left. Jimmy reached the alley, and found two intruders grappling on the ground. One was clearly female----The Night Phantom had returned to action. The other had to be the killer, and he pushed Phantom aside to get into a standing position. He pulled out a knife and aimed it at his masked adversary. Jimmy got his attention and took a picture. The blinding flash of Jimmy's camera stunned the killer long enough for the Phantom to trip him up and send him sprawling back to the ground. He got up, but Jimmy put him back down with a right cross, knocking him out. By the time Henderson came down, the Phantom was gone. "Here's your prowler.", Jimmy said as he wrapped up the intruder, identified as Silas Harmon, a drifter who'd admitted he killed the Winslows because Ernie "owed a debt that lasted a lifetime". "I warned him that if he didn't pay up, he wasn't going to make it to Miami.", Harmon boasted, "But he kept saying he didn't owe me anything. At least I'm a man of my word." "And your word could put you in the gas chamber.", Henderson snapped as Harmon was led away for booking. Jimmy went to the pay phone and filed the story with Perry. Soon, Jimmy finally returned home, exhausted. Phantom entered through an open window in the kitchen, which caught Jimmy's attention. An accidental clattering of pots & pans brought him to the kitchen, where the Phantom, sheepishly, was cleaning up the mess she made. "Welcome home, honey.", Jimmy said, knowing Jayna was under the mask. "Sorry about the mess, Jim.", she replied, thankful her mask prevented Jimmy from seeing she was blushing. "I tried to be quiet about this, but..." "But you must've tripped over the window sill.", Jimmy said. "You're lucky you didn't break either of your legs." "I suppose. You'll forgive me if I take a raincheck on making out my first night back." "Forgive you? I knew you were impersonating Lois at the party. Your perfume gave you away, and when Perry said you had stayed behind, I knew why." "Guilty as charged, darling.", Jayna replied. "I'm still wearing Lois' form for now. Zan's waiting at the cottage." "I'll get you there soon enough, hon'." Lois had been working on another story, and hoped she'd be free to go to the party, but when she realized she couldn't, Perry had gotten in touch with Jayna, asking her to fly in a day early to surprise Jimmy. A short while later, the twins and Jimmy reunited with Zan's fiancee, Mary Lou Turner, and her roommate, Jessie Franklin. Zan finally got around to the other reason why they came home. "There was no need for us to remain in Hallandale.", he said, "Not after the professor died." ================================================================ So what happened to Professor Nichols? We'll find out in chapter 2.