“A waste — all of you!” cried the Mist. “Your mother, God rest her soul, learned the price of betrayal. Now so have you.”
The Mist’s body congealed as he stared at his son’s lifeless body below. He would find his daughter, and she would pay as well. It was better to wipe the slate clean and start all over again; after all, thanks to his abilities he never aged. He had all the time in the world.
Something impacted on the Mist’s head, and he crumpled to the ground, groaning. As he fell, he caught sight of his assailant. It was his daughter.
She came at him again, but this time, contact was not made. Andy Murphy had become the Mist. As Nash tried to regain her footing, the Mist solidified and grabbed his daughter around the neck, choking her.
“Oh, Natasha, I had such high hopes for you, but I cannot tolerate betrayal. Your brother was such a waste, a disappointment. But you, so much like your mother…”
“Actually… Father… more… like… you.”
This time it was the Mist’s turn to be surprised as his daughter’s body dissolved in his hands. “What the hell?”
Nash’s disembodied voice echoed throughout the room, “I am the Mist now, Father. In the name of my mother, whom you killed that awful night, I am taking your place.”
“I see. So this is about revenge, is it? Bravo, my child. Well done. I had always hoped one of my children would follow in my footsteps. Now we can rule Opal City together. No one will be able to stop us.”
Nash’s face became visible. “No. You’re not hearing me, Father. I am taking your place. You are going to die this evening. You deserve no less for what you did to her.”
“What I did? What I did?!” the Mist howled, his spectral face contorted in anger. “Your mother had to die. I gave her everything. I gave her love. I gave her two children. A house. A car. I gave up being the Mist. For her. And do you know what she did, Natasha? She cheated on me!”
“Well, good for her, then. You never loved her. She was just another possession to you. Like me. Like Kyle. I remember all the nights hearing you two argue. I remember hearing the sounds of you punching her. I remember Mom’s heavy makeup hiding the bruises. I remember! Now it’s time for you to die.”
The Mist broke into insane laughter. “Poor, dear, deluded Natasha. Just how do you propose to do that? We’re both ethereal. Both made of mist.”
Natasha solidified her hand enough to reach in the bag she brought with her. She retrieved a small brown object from it. “This is a little present from Artemis and the original Huntress.”
She threw the object at her father. It landed where his feet would have been had they been there. Before the Mist could react, it exploded, and suddenly the Mist’s feet were there again. He tried to change back again, but he could not. He looked in exasperation as Natasha floated in the room again and became solid.
“I asked them how they would go about defeating you. It seems that the Sportsmaster and the Huntress had already thought of that and devised this little neutralizer to do just that. It’s time for you to die now, Father.”
Nash walked toward the Mist confidently, something he had never seen before. He was waiting for her fists to impact, when her leg came out of nowhere and hit his jaw, sending him flying. She followed that up with a stomp, then a kick, and then she began beating him senseless.
“Natasha… no… no… more…”
She dropped him to the ground and looked in his eyes. “You didn’t give Mother that mercy, did you? I want you to look at me as I enter your lungs and expand inside them. I want you to feel every bit of pain that she did. Natasha is no more, old man. I’m the Mist. And you’re dead.”
Slowly, her body began to dissipate. Murph tried to move away, but every breath began to draw her in even further. Then Natasha’s ethereal form began to glow, and she screamed, falling on the floor, unconscious, the mists retreating from Andy Murphy’s body.
“No one dies today, Nash.”
The Mist looked past his daughter to see his savior.
“Jack! Jack Knight! Thank God! My daughter. I don’t know what’s become of her, but she…”
“Save it, Mist. I know who you are. It’s why Jack Knight left here. But you can call me Starman.”
The Mist stood up and brushed his clothes off. “Really. Starman. How… presumptuous. I knew Ted Knight, young man. I fought against Ted Knight. And you, young Jack, are no Ted Knight. You’re not even David Knight. You’re a pathetic little pot-smoker with delusions of adequacy.”
“That’s who I used to be, Mist. Not anymore. I’m Starman now. I finally know what that means. Nash neutralized your powers, so come along quietly.”
“Oh, how little you know,” the Mist said as he stared into Jack’s eyes. “Jack, put your cosmic rod down and drop to your knees.”
Glassy-eyed, Jack fell to his knees and put the cosmic rod down in front of him. The Mist laughed as he walked over to retrieve it.
“I’ll take that now.”
Just as he was about to grab it, Jack got it first. He took the rod and landed it in the Mist’s midsection. Jumping up, Jack hit the Mist with the long end and then the short, backing the villain into the wall. The Mist tried to defend himself, but Jack’s superior training made that impossible.
“A little something Brainwave helped me out with. Nothing like blocking the neural receptors that make your power of suggestion useless.”
The Mist sank down the wall, and as he did, his body began to dissolve.
“Well, well, how the worm turns. Seems that Mr. and Mrs. Crock aren’t as smart as they appear. I’ll grant you this, boy. Your father would have been proud. We’ll write that on your tombstone. Natasha was going to kill me by exploding my lungs. What a brilliant idea. Don’t think any bursts from your mighty rod will affect me.”
Jack just smiled. The cosmic rod began to glow, and a mighty electrical charge arced through the Mist. He was caught totally by surprise. He convulsed as his body returned to its solid state, and he, too, lapsed into unconsciousness.
“Something I learned from reading Dad’s case files. You might not have been solid, but the water present in your Mist form is an excellent electrical conductor.”
Jack rushed over to Nash, who was beginning to stir.
“Jack! I thought I’d never see you again!” Nash said, throwing her arms around the new Starman.
“But Nash, I thought… what your father said that night…”
Nash’s face turned cold. “He lied, Jack. It’s what he does. I never stopped loving you. That’s what makes this all the more…”
She was interrupted by a plaintiff cry from outside. “Please…”
Nash and Jack ran to the balcony. Kyle was trying to move below. He was injured, but he was still alive. Jack formed a cosmic stretcher to keep Kyle immobile as he lifted him back into the house. He gently set Kyle on the bed.
“Nash, I’m going to take your father in. Your brother needs medical care, but he still has to answer for killing David. You do understand that, right?”
Nash put her arms around Jack. “I know what need to be done, my love.” She leaned in and kissed him deeply. Jack returned the kiss, and then he started choking. He fell to his knees, gasping for air. Nash grabbed the cosmic rod.
“I came here for a reason today, Jack. I wish it could be different, I really do, but I vowed on my mother’s grave that my father would die this night.”
With that, Nash pointed the cosmic rod at her father. It blazed to life, firing a bolt of cosmic energy. Andy Murphy went up in smoke, and the only thing that remained was the charred carpet where his body had lain. Nash then threw the rod on the ground at Jack. She sat next to her brother and put something in his mouth. Jack stumbled to his feet.
“Nash, no. Why? Why?”
She looked into his eyes, tears forming. “I’m sorry, Jack. I really am. This isn’t what I wanted for us, but you, of all people, should understand. This is about family. My mother’s death had to be avenged, and as much as I love you, I cannot let you take Kyle, even if he did kill your brother.”
“Actually, Kyle never killed anyone.”
Jack and Nash both turned to see the Shade and Matt O’Dare walk into the room with David Knight.
“Davey!” Jack screamed in disbelief as he ran to his brother and threw his arms around him.
“Careful, Jack. I’m still sore.”
“I can’t believe you’re alive!”
“I can’t believe you’re Starman!”
The Shade observed the charred carpet. “Jack, I trust this was not you that killed the Mist.”
Nash spoke up, “No. I did. And the Mist isn’t dead. I’m the Mist now.”
“I see. Well, your brother is no longer guilty of murder, but he is guilty of assault. I think that if you turned yourself in to the authorities, they’d be lenient on you, considering the proof we now have that your father killed your mother.”
Jack handed the cosmic rod to David and walked to Nash and her brother on the bed. “Nash, please. Don’t fight us. Turn yourself in. We’ll do everything we can to help you. Be better than your father was.”
Nash laid a hand on her brother and then looked up at Jack with tears in her eyes. “Your destiny was to become your father, Jack. So was mine. I’ll always love you, but what I did today, I’m not Nash anymore. I truly am the Mist.”
The Mist and her brother quickly dissolved and faded from view. “We’ll always be connected, Jack. More than you’ll ever know.”