Apollyon City Chapter 4:"War
Apollyon City, Por Vouz Restaurant, Corner of Iroquois Drive and
is really wonderful!" Molly wiped her mouth with an oversized
cloth napkin. "I'm so glad you could join us, Jennie."
with her mouthful, Jennie smiled and chewed quickly. Finally, she
managed to swallow. "Me too, Molly! Being able to see you and
Daddy on a regular basis is the best benefits package a girl could
ask for." She winked at Alan. "That Mr. Scott sure knows
how to treat his employees!"
leaned back in his chair and smiled. He was truly content for the
first time in a while. Sure, there was still that difference in his
and Molly's ages, but they were learning to deal with that. If only
Todd were here, the day would be perfect. He looked around. Someone
at work had given Jennie the name of this French café. The
tipster had excellent taste. "So Jen, what made you decide to
get behind the camera?"
sipped a glass of wine. She sat the glass back on the table and wiped
her mouth. "I've always been interested. Back in my Infinity
days, I would wander around Sylvester's studio, fascinated by the
old props and cameras. I used to close my eyes and imagine the movies
that were made there. I thought I wanted to act, but then I got into
photography. The two interests merged. Not long after, I heard about
WABS. I...I talked to Bob, and here I am. I wanted to surprise you!"
laughed. "Good ol' Bob. The one secret he manages to keep in
all the years I've known him."
interrupted. "So what are your plans, Hon? You still going to
do the tights and spandex?"
smile disappeared from Jennie's face. "I don't know. When Todd
and I barged in on that JSA meeting a few years back, I couldn't imagine
being anything but a super hero. Now I just don't know..."
took his daughter's hand. "Hey listen, for some of us, it's just
for a season. For others, it's a lifetime commitment. Do what your
heart tells you. Either way you won't disappoint me."
table fell silent, but it was a good silence. Molly finally broke
the hush as she pointed to Alan. "Yeah, and for some of them
the commitment is several lifetimes."
small family shared a well-deserved laugh.
Apollyon City, WABS Studios, Meeting RoomThree, The Same Day
and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to our Executive Producer
and Senior Vice- President, Mr. Alan Scott, Jr." Bob McNamara
was in his element. If Dr. Jekyll lacked in social skills, Mr. Hyde
was masterful before a roomful of strangers dressed in Armani.
stepped away as all eyes turned to Alan. The small gathering of employees
clapped politely as he stepped forward. He could sense their expectations.
These were the people who would make or break him. In turn, he would
care for them and their families. "Thank
you. Your generosity is greatly appreciated, but it is I who should
applaud you. The task set before us will not be easy, the course uncharted.
It is so difficult to compete in this business, especially with a
new startup. However, I've been looking over the background information
Bob has prepared on each of you, and I feel confident this team will
take our newborn station to the top. WCLO has dominated the airwaves
in Apollyon for too long. Let's see how she likes a little friendly
round of polite applause erupted from those sitting around the elegant
table. Alan continued. "Now if you don't mind, let's go around
the room and share a little about ourselves."
gestured to the man at his left. He was strikingly handsome, with
dark, curly hair and a well-groomed mustache. A well-defined chest
supported broad, muscular shoulders. He appeared to be in his early
man stood. "My name is Frank Decker. I'm a UCLA graduate who
cut his teeth in the Chicago market. I appreciate the opportunity
to co-anchor the news team." Decker sat and pulled his chair
under the table once more. He and Jennie exchanged smiles.
Frank." Alan hoped Decker would prove more talkative on the air
than off. He also hoped Decker was prepared to deal with Todd if he
planned on putting any moves on Jennie.
others introduced themselves before the attractive woman with the
wheat-blonde hair pushed her seat away from the table and stood. "Hi,
I'm Felicity Barnes. I'll be co-anchoring the news with Frank..."
the table the introductions went. The heads of the technical departments
represented their crews. Of course, most of the people worked in the
news division, since WABS couldn't afford to offer too much in the
way of original programming yet.
the introductions worked their way around to Jennie. "Hi, I"m
Jennie-Lynne Hayden. I'll be Director of Film. I'm looking forward
to working with all of you." Her eyes were locked on Frank Decker
as she spoke.
was about to add to her introduction when the door of the meeting
room burst open. "Turn on the television, quick!"
recognized the compact intruder as one of the cameramen Bob had hired
for the evening news team.
McNamara didn't appreciate interruptions. "What is the meaning
of this, Samuels? Can't you see we're in the middle of a meeting?"
held up a hand. "Bob! It's okay! Mr. Samuels doesn't seem like
the kind of man to barge into a meeting for nothing. Now if you'll..."
McNamara was already one step ahead of his boss. As soon as Alan okayed
Samuel's presence, Bob found the remote control to the nineteen-inch
colored television which was mounted high in the left-hand corner
of the room by a large window overlooking the Apollyon skyline. He
touched the power button and the set flickered to life.
nightmare began eleven minutes ago when, according to eyewitness accounts,
Dr. Mason Durant unleashed a weapon known as the Virtual War Wheel,
or VW² on a gathering of his colleagues. The War Wheel legacy
dates back to World War II when a Nazi defector invented the original
for Hitler's war machine. The War Wheel first surfaced in May of 1940
in Belgium, where it was tested on a small Belgium village. The international
peacekeeping force known as the Blackhawks managed to defeat the Wheel
at that time. The Wheel has resurfaced several times throughout the
years. This latest version of the wheel is rumored to be under control
of the international terrorist group, KOBRA. For WCLO news, this is
Tina Munroe reporting live from S.T.A.R. Labs Headquarters in Apollyon
nodded to Bob, and he turned the television off. "Well, ladies
and gentlemen, it looks as if we have our first story. We may have
been scooped while we were getting to know one another, but being
first on the scene doesn't always assure quality of reporting. Jennie,
get a team over there, pronto! Bob, call the FCC, and don't let them
off the phone until you secure a temporary broadcast permit!"
news team rushed into action. As the others rushed out of the meeting
room, Bob McNamara approached Alan like a salmon fighting upstream
against angry waters. "We begin broadcasting tomorrow. Should
we jeopardize it with a stunt like this? With all due respect sir,
but does such a permit exist?"
smiled. "It had better. Excuse me, Bob. I have some work to do
Outskirts of Apollyon City, S.T.A.R Labs Headquarters
Sentinel surveyed the scene below him. Debris was scattered around
the S.T.A.R Labs lot. Two of the large buildings were heavily damaged.
Emergency crews were pulling people from the devastation, and despite
the urgency, they seemed to have the immediate situation well in hand.
The War Wheel, however, was nowhere in sight. The Sentinel's emerald
flame appeared, taking the form of binoculars. He searched the area
and found Chief Westingmore. He willed the binoculars to fade into
nothingness and then landed.
Westingmore brushed aside the throng of reporters and their questions.
He approached the Sentinel. "Sentinel! I wish you'd been here
twenty minutes ago!"
do I, but that hardly changes the fact that I wasn't. Where is the
War Wheel now?"
Westingmore glared at Alan with his cold, grey eyes. "According
to eyewitnesses and the torn-up ground, it's headed west into town."
disappeared in the confusion. We assume he's with the Wheel."
Westingmore lit a pipe. The sweet smell of pipe tobacco filled the
air as the bowl's contents glowed red. "So, do you spandex types
have any nasty little habits that help you to cope?"
Sentinel frowned. "For most of us, fighting crime is our nasty
little habit." With men like the Batman around, that was certainly
true. But what of himself? After all these years was that what fighting
crime had become? A nasty little habit?
going to buckle!" A firefighter's anxious voice stirred the Sentinel
from his moral dilemma. What remained of one of the damaged buildings
was crumbling. There were still people trapped inside the rubble!
Going after the Wheel would have to wait. Saving lives made the nasty
little habit worth it all.
elaborate network of beams and girders emerged from the ring on Alan's
finger. The verdant support system grew ever larger as it neared the
buckling wall. His engineering background payed off as Alan quickly
found the weakest points in the wall and supplied reinforcement to
the crumbling structure. He turned to the retreating emergency personnel.
need to get the wounded out! Hurry! Even with my powers this wall
won't hold long!"
the Sentinel's best efforts, there just wasn't enough wall left to
support. Brick after brick fell away as the structure began to collapse.
The place was caving in on the wounded people inside, and there was
little he could do.
"it" happened. Two blurs of motion swept onto the scene,
blinking in and out of sight like ghosts vanishing in the wind. They
moved with uncanny speed and agility, leaving behind faint, vaporous
after-images. Jay and Wally? Sentinel breathed an overdue sigh of
relief. If anyone could find and rescue all the victims before the
building collapsed, it was the two speedsters known as the Flashes!
San Francisco, California, At The Same Moment
Sloane was a persistent man. "Look, Zee, I just think it's a
bad idea! You're a west coast girl!"
dloh esactiuS" The exotic beauty known to the world as Zatanna,
cradled the phone between her ear and left shoulder, as she stuffed
outfit after outfit into her suitcase. She was dressed in a long,
white terrycloth bathrobe. A matching towel was wrapped around her
wet hair, turban-like. "Look Jeff, we've been over this before!
Apollyon needs me."
just gonna leave your heart in San Francisco?" Jeff asked.
still going to be here?" Zatanna asked.
laughed. "Of course I am, Zee. But I was serious? What about
walked around her large bedroom, gathering up whatever things she
felt she may need and stuffed them into the suitcase. Dinah Lance
once asked her how she traveled so light. The old bottomless suitcase
was a favorite road trick she mastered long ago. "I'll just be
minutes away, Jeff. I'll erect a portal between Apollyon and San Francisco
in the back of the store front I'm renting."
tell me it's not a magic supplies store!" Jeff begged.
course not, silly!"
sighed. "Thank God! Oh, and not a bookstore either? You can't
stand the phony clientele that frequent those places."
with her packing, Zatanna stretched across her bed, finally rolling
onto her stomach after fighting with the tangled phone cord. "A
bookstore? Surely, my business manager of many years knows me better
bare feet dangled in the air behind her. Her tone became more subdued.
She bit her lip, closed her eyes, then whispered. "It's a florist!"
chuckled. "A florist? Really? I would have never dreamed...."
know, Jeff....that's one reason I have to do this. Don't you see?
My only identity is as a magician. People seek my advice on everything
from children's birthday parties to occult slayings. I need a break"
tone grew brittle. "And you think Apollyon will offer you a break?
You've already helped the Sentinel with that Beelzebub character you
mentioned. What makes you think that'll change when you move there?"
paused. "I need a break from my life revolving around magic.
I need a break from San Francisco. I need a break....from us."
was silent on the other end of the phone.
shaking voice betrayed his hurt. "I...see. Call me when you figure
everything out, Zee."
dial tone in Zatanna's ear reverberated ominously. Poor Jeff! He must
be so confused! Why did she ever go along with that 'Heart in San
Francisco" bit? She never meant to be so misleading, but she
had to work up the nerve to make a clean break. How could a woman
who could defy the laws of physics, logic, and reason with but a sentence
spoken backward be so chicken when faced with breaking up with her
the first time in a while Zatanna was free. Free from relationships.
Free from her road schedule. Free from the life of a super-heroine.
More importantly, she was free to find herself after all these years.
One question lingered though. Why did freedom have to hurt so damn
Outskirts of Apollyon City, S.T.A.R. Labs Headquarters
last of the dead and wounded were pulled from the wreckage of the
building that served as S.T.A.R's main lecture hall. The two Flashes
finally slowed their pace enough for the Sentinel to recognize the
bright orange of their....
a minute! There was no bright orange! Instead, a familiar red, white,
and blue costume emerged from the Speed Force. The other blur continued
from one pile of debris to another, apparently surveying the damage
before rushing to the WCLO news team.
red, white, and blue blur came to rest. "Impulse! Get over here
and leave the news hounds alone!" Max Mercury extended his hand.
"Sentinel! It's good to see you again. I hate that it is under
smiled and shook the hand of the Speed Force's elder statesman. .
"Max Mercury! It's good to see you! But... don't you think it's
a little risky bringing Impulse along on such a sensitive mission?"
shook his head. "Sensitive? Oh no! This was pretty routine stuff!"
nodded. "I know. As I was saying...."
appreciate your concern, but Impulse has learned so much since....Impulse!
Cut that out! Leave the lady alone!"
and the rest of the WABS crew arrived just in time for Impulse to
spot them setting up their equipment. He raced to their location,
trying to help. Jennie clung tightly to the expensive camera her father
had purchased days ago. It was a top of the line Japanese model, loaded
with features, and very expensive.
whirred around her in a flurry of activity and questions. "AmIgoingtobeontv?WilltheyseemebackhomeinAlabama?OopsMaxtoldmenotsaythingslikethat!"
exasperated tone finally brought the hyperactive speedster to a halt.
He rushed to his mentor's side. A wide, nervous grin crossed his lips.
"Heh. Sorry about blowing the secret identity thing there, Max."
buried his face in his hands. He clasped his hands together, as if
he were about to pray, in an effort to dam his ire. "Yes, I hate
that too! Now, if Superman has any relatives in the local vicinity,
I'm sure they were shocked to learn who you really are!"
settled into his slowest gear, an on-the-edge mix of impatience and
overheard the youngster mumbling. "Was I using Speedspeak? Is
that what he meant? Does Superman know my secret identity? Of course
he does. He knows everybody's...."
Sentinel sighed. "That's what I mean Max. You remember how dangerous
the original War Wheel was! I was thinking of calling in the JSA."
nodded. "I understand. Do what you must. We saw the building
collapsing on tv and thought maybe you could use some help."
Barnes approached the brightly garbed trio. "Excuse me gentlemen,
but you had better call in your favors quickly! The War Wheel was
just spotted outside the city!"
nodded to the attractive, young newswoman. "Thank you, Miss."
He turned to Max and his young protege. "Looks like we're going
to have to handle this one alone. Max, I'm counting on you."
speedster nodded. "You can count on us. Let's go, Impulse."
speedsters disappeared as quickly as they had arrived. Alan rose into
the air. "I hope so, Max. I do hope so."
Next Issue: The Conclusion of the War Machine Saga.... "New Tricks!"
Can Alan survive the experience that is Bart Allen? Can Bart survive
the...Hey Bart! Cut it out! I'm trying to plug the next issue! Ahem...as
I was saying.... Can Bart prove himself to the Big Gun? New challenges
for Alan and Zee. Be here.
I'm nearly halfway through my commitment to the Sentinel. It seems to
have flown by! Be warned. I don't plan on going away any time soon.
I really like writing this title. This story (and the conclusion next
issue) were a blast to write. Bart is one of my favorite characters.
Originally, I planned on a Punch and Jewelee story, but found out they
had been dibbed. Max and Bart just kinda happened as replacements. Some
of you have let me know at the FDC chats that you like what I've been
doing. Thank you very much. A few have written. Thanks to everyone.
I was beginning to wonder if ANYBODY was reading Sentinel. BTW, I will
be scarce at the FDC chats for awhile. I've taken a second job and Wednesdays
are one of the nights I usually work. I'll try to be around, though.
A sampling of the comments on the Beelzebub arc.
Sentinel: I'll admit it: I had a little trouble following this one,
caught on to the different points of view. Nice tight story, good use
supporting cast, and plenty of foreshadowing. Let's just play up the
power that Alan has to work with, okay?
Thanks Chris! You can bet we'll be seeing Alan open up before too long!
Don't miss #8!
Hey, I just finished reading Sentinel 4&5 and I really, really enjoyed
I especially like the twist at the end where love took the place of
exorcising the demon. Pretty cool.Dale Glaser
Thanks Dale. I hope you like "War Machine" as well. The War
Wheel has always fascinated me. I remember seeing a reprint in one of
those wonderful Giant-Sized titles DC used to put out. Now the big question
is which poses the greater threat to Apollyon- VW² or Impulse?
That's all until next issue!
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