Thomas Chantry dreamed the vivid dream of a real event and not the fuzzy gauze of fantasy. He walked a strange street along a waterfront that was different from what he was used to in Chicago. He looked toward the skyline near the center of the city. Maybe he would find answers there.
Chantry proceeded toward downtown in the rapid scene-changing that dreams allowed. He stood in front of the City Hall, Gotham City. He was standing in front of the Gotham City City Hall.
He glanced to his left. As he looked in that direction, a bright column of red light leaped into the sky. Hot wind played across Chantry’s face as he watched the column expand through the city as a material-eating dome. It cut its way across town, devouring everything in its path.
Thomas ran from it as it approached City Hall in its slow way. If you died in your dreams, you died for real. Thomas ran. He stayed just ahead of the monstrosity but could not pull ahead in the race.
He saw the waterfront ahead. He ran to the end of a dock and threw himself in the water. He dived to the bottom and began swimming out to sea.
Thomas Chantry swam as deep as he could. Everywhere he looked, strange fish swam with him. Above him the ocean steadily vanished in the white blankness he had witnessed taking shape. Thomas found himself being pulled up in the expanding wall of white. He could almost hear the fish scream as their smaller bodies were vacuumed into oblivion. Thomas felt his foot start to vanish as well, when everything began to fuzz and wobble.
Chantry sat up in bed suddenly, sweat roiling from his brow. He grabbed a notebook from a table beside his bed, switching on a lamp. He wrote Gotham City on the top page.
Adam Blake stood in the middle of the wrecked laboratory. His metallic green eyes surveyed the scene as calmly as a man studying a passing cloud.
“The only thing taken, Mr. Blake, was a new application of a confiscated weapon of Alexei Luthor,” said Dr. Ray Macross. His hands worked themselves against each other as he spoke.
“What about the original weapon?” Blake asked.
“The Metropolis Police have it in their evidence vault,” said Dr. Macross. “We were only allowed a small period to examine and then blueprint the thing before it had to be returned to the impound.”
“How did you get access to it?” asked Blake.
“The device was to be examined, with the results to be turned over to the military.”
Nodding, Blake silently walked around the room. The Gotham Police Department Forensics team had already come and gone, as well as the FBI. Now it was his turn to sift what evidence he could.
Blake’s careful search did not turn up anything new that wasn’t in the police reports already. The scene itself had been gone over, and the technicians’ handiwork remained everywhere to cloud the waters. He gave up, deciding to try a new tack on the problem.
His first goal was to get a look at the original device in the Metropolis impound. That would tell him what to look for that the doctors could not, due to the security nature of the reverse engineering. It was a game of catch-up, and he was last out of the gate.
Blake told Dr. Macross he would be in touch before he left the building. He wondered how much time he had before the thief used the beam weapon. Not much, he decided as he headed for home.
Thomas Chantry packed a bag of clothes for his trip to Gotham City from Chicago. He had money from a career of painting his vivid dreams on canvas, so a train ticket was easily attained.
He arrived at the station with time to spare. He wandered the place aimlessly until his train pulled in with a huff of steam on the track. He waited for the other passengers to board before he walked to the ladder with his carry-on.
Finding the state room he had purchased, he placed his bag in the small closet and sat down on the seat, which doubled as a bed. He stared out of the window as the train made the last-call whistle for any last-minute arrival to get aboard and find their berths for the long trip.
The train surged forward with a rattle of effort. Minutes later, Thomas Chantry was watching his home recede to a point and then finally vanish in a single moment of clarity.
Adam Blake assembled the equipment he felt he needed for the task. A call to Metropolis had netted him a flat no to a request to view the evidence. He decided to get a look anyway.
He typed in commands with the specially modified typewriter he had hooked up to a television in his laboratory. Pictures filled the screen with a swiftness a normal human would not be able to follow. Blake simply wrote several notes to himself on a piece of paper.
Adam Blake donned a set of black fatigues, a beret, an equipment vest, and a utility belt. He pulled on a long coat to hide everything, then called a cab to take him to the airport. He had a private hangar at the airport for a case like this. Even though Hop Harrigan was his pilot, Blake was an expert in that line of endeavor, also.
Blake pre-walked his plane before boarding and getting permission to take off. Once he had cleared the runway, he set course for nearby Metropolis. The powerful jets built into the wings of the aircraft allowed him to reach his destination faster than any other plane in the air.
Landing at Metropolis International, Blake used another private hangar to shelter the plane while he went about his business. He made sure to refuel the plane before he set about the next part of his plan.
A cab ride took the adventurer downtown. He stepped into a building and made his way to the roof. Below his new vantage point was Metropolis Police Department Headquarters.
It took the train a day of travel to reach Gotham City from Chicago. In that time Thomas Chantry slept and dreamed vividly.
He walked the streets of Gotham quietly. People were everywhere. He could see the end of the street among the rows of buildings. As he watched, the outward shell of one collapsed inward. That killing glow began to eat the pavement again.
Chantry ran the other way, noting the street as he passed. Now he knew where the disaster would unfold. All he had to do was find the specific place before any of this happened. But first he had to wake up.
That hideous glow devoured the scenery at an amazing rate. He had to escape it somehow. A whistle penetrated his dream. It sounded again. Chantry sat up, listening to the call for Gotham City. He had slept the night and gained a piece of information.
He straightened his clothes and cleaned up before heading for the steps leading off the car. He waited impatiently for the train to come to a halt, aware of the passage of time.
Adam Blake pulled a small launcher from his utility belt. He loaded a spike attached to a cord in one end of the launcher. He then took careful aim at the building across the street. A thumb-press sent the spike on its way, trailing the rope behind like a long tail. The spike dug into the rooftop deeply. Blake secured the other end to an air-conditioning unit.
The adventurer placed the launcher across the cord and grasped it in both hands. He slid across the open space, stepping up to secure a foothold on the police headquarters roof. Blake walked across the roof, silent on the graveled surface. He pulled a lock pick and opened the access door with a minimum effort. He stepped inside, letting the door shut behind him.
Blake cautiously made his way to the evidence room. The corridors were mostly deserted as detectives and patrolmen went about their business of keeping order. The evidence vault was the first and most serious obstacle to his goal.
First, a man was on guard at a desk. The guard was protected by a fence with a slot for small items. A padlocked door stood on one side for larger items. Then a man was checking things in and running an inventory among a set of shelves behind the fence.
Blake did not see anything like a camera or an alarm. He knew the officer probably had some type of panic button under the check-in desk. This was Metropolis, after all.
Blake pulled out a dart from his vest and dipped it in a vial of clear liquid.
Taking careful aim, Blake let the dart fly. The projectile flew through a space in the fence and stabbed the policeman in the neck. The man collapsed on the top of his desk without a sound.
He rushed forward and picked the padlock before the other man could approach the front of the evidence room. He slipped inside silently. Another dart rendered that man asleep.
Blake checked the log book and found several devices that had been confiscated from Alexei Luthor. He took out his black scanner and inserted the green card in its side. He checked each device into the box.
Satisfied, he put the scanner away and left the vault as silently as a ghost.