“Grandpa, where am I?” Ilyssa Jordan asked as she woke up. She took in her surroundings and noticed that she was home.
“You’re home, safe and sound,” replied her grandfather, Larry Jordan. He looked at her and noticed that she seemed a little more rough around the edges, like she matured a lot in the past few weeks.
“Grandpa, did I win?” she asked. He looked at her and nodded.
“Yeah. Fireball is going to be locked up for good,” said Larry. “Hopefully.”
“Good. But I can’t help wondering…” Ilyssa said, trailing off.
“About what?” Larry asked.
Ilyssa looked at him and bit her lip. “It was like there was more than one person in Fireball,” she said. “I could see it in his eyes, they way they seemed to shift. It was like there were two people arguing about what to do.”
“Possibly. But I never faced anyone that had psychic powers,” Larry said, sitting down next to his granddaughter.
“Grandpa, what happened? When I defeated Fireball, I felt something… different about myself,” Ilyssa said, wondering where that power she used had come from.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Larry said, and Ilyssa closed her eyes again and went to sleep
“Ted, you look like hell,” Al Pratt said to his friend.
“I feel even worse,” Ted said weakly. He was confined to bed for a couple of weeks, per Dr. Charles McNider’s instructions.
It was a few days after the incident, but Ted was a survivor and was recovering quicker than a normal human, possibly due to some energies left over when Green Lantern healed his shattered legs. (*)
“McNider told me that you refused both G.L. and the T-Bolt’s offer to heal ya up,” Al said.
“Yeah, I told ’em that I’d rather do this on my own. Give me a few months, and I’ll be bustin’ heads again,” Ted said with a grin.
“Speaking of head-bustin’, how did that punk get the drop on you?” Al asked.
“For the past week, I’ve been asking myself that,” said Ted. “I can’t explain it, but I’m sure that whack job wasn’t in complete control of his body. His timing and follow through was perfect. You know how long it takes to master even one of those, let alone both?”
“You think he was mind-controlled?” Al asked.
Ted shook his head. “Nah. That guy, he knew and enjoyed what he was doing,” he said. “I think… I think he got him some help.”
“Superman, what brings you here?” Larry asked his visitor.
The Man of Steel thought about it, before answering. “I wanted to talk to your protégée,” said Superman, “your successor.”
“She’s at school,” Larry said.
Superman nodded in affirmation. “She has a lot of potential,” he said.
Larry nodded. “I know,” he replied. “She has a good heart. It’ll help her in times to come.”
“True, but sometimes a good heart is not enough,” said Superman. “She needs training. Not that you didn’t do a good job, but she needs someone like her to show her the ropes.”
“What are you getting at?” Larry asked.
“Nothing, yet. Just tell her that she has an offer,” said Superman. “If she wants to accept, all she has to do is ask. I think that being on a team would do her a world of good.” And at that he left.
Larry watched the hero fly off until he couldn’t see him anymore. “Maybe… maybe,” he said to himself.
“If you ask me, I think it’s creepy the way he just sits there and watches Captain Carrot re-runs,” one hospital orderly said to the other.
“What else can he do?” the other said. “He just regained some motor control and use of his left hand. But… I could do without the disembodied voice.”
The first shrugged. “Come on, let’s get some coffee. He ain’t goin’ anywhere,” he said, and the two left the room, leaving the man to his thoughts.
Fireball was a failure. Seven years of meticulous planning down the drain. In the end he had won out, but that infernal Wildcat had stopped his master plan, to destroy Air Wave along with his successor. He had taught that hero about interloping. In his failure, though, he had planted the seed of darkness that he needed to gain control of the younger Air Wave. All he had to do was wait, and he was a master at waiting.
“Soon, Air Wave… soon,” Conrad Carnegy said in that disembodied voice the second orderly talked about as he rolled into the shadows, the hint of a grin on his face.