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The Reclamation Project

ENTRY #1
TITLE: Destiny
AUTHOR: Tim J. Priebe
CHARACTER: Blue Devil

Prologue

Blue Devil hurt all over. And he was mad.

He couldn't really figure out why he hurt, but he knew why he was mad. The Mist had just killed Crimson Fox and Amazing Man, and then tried to kill him. For a second, Dan had almost laughed. Mist had filled the sprinkler system with holy water, and Dan had accidentally set it off with fire from his trident. Mist had foolishly believed that Blue Devil was part demon. He knew he was just a stunt man stuck in a suit of his own design. But if that was the case, then why did the holy water sting?

And now it was much worse than a stinging. Dan couldn't move, didn't know why, and the Mist was gone with the jewels they had been guarding. In fact, Firestorm would be back any second, and the Mist had left a bomb set to go off when Firestorm returned.

Suddenly Dan heard Firestorm above him, though it seemed like he was a great distance away.

"A false alarm! Strange that it—" Suddenly, the Nuclear Man spotted what was left of Dan. "Devil!"

As everything faded, Dan summoned up the last of his wavering strength to utter one word of warning. "Bomb."

The world erupted in flame.

Chapter One

Blue Devil closed his eyes as the light of the flames blinded him. He opened them up a moment later to survey the damage—

Dan was definitely not in Paris anymore. He stood, and took a look around.

He appeared to be in a cave of some sorts, though it was the hottest cave Dan could ever remember being in. He saw he was near the edge of a cliff. He carefully walked up to the edge of the cliff and peered over the side.

There was no bottom. Dan jumped back, and stumbled. After he regained his footing, he turned around. There, on the wall of the cave, were steps made out of stones. They led up to a door with skulls going up each side.

"Neron."

Somehow Blue Devil had ended up in Neron's hell. Well, at least he had the element of surprise on his side. The whole ordeal with Neron had taken place awhile back, and Neron hadn't even been sighted for awhile. At least, not that Dan knew of. He tightened his grip on his trident, and proceeded to blast his way through the doorway.

"Neron! Send me back!"

As the door exploded in a shower of splinters, Dan saw Neron sitting on a throne that appeared to grow out of the cave floor. As shards fell everywhere, Neron looked up from the gazing pool beside the throne. He rose, and stepped over one of the many demons that littered the cave floor and walls.

"Ah. The would-be devil. I was wondering when you would return."

Dan stopped in his tracks. Neron knew he was coming?

Neron seemed to sense his unspoken question. "After you and your friends released the majority of my souls, rendering me effectively powerless, I had plenty of time to wonder why you had not died. Your apparent resurrection was, in fact, inevitable."

Dan scratched his head.

"Look at yourself."

Dan looked down. Suddenly he realized that he was no longer adorned by his gold armor. In fact, he looked just as he had before he had been resurrected here the first time.

"You were right, Devil, when you said I couldn't kill you in a place like this. I couldn't, at least not when you already had some otherworldly energies contained in you." Neron walked to the other side of his pool and stretched his arm out towards in. "Come, look in the pool."

Dan carefully strode over and gazed in the pool. As he looked into it, he saw a scene out of his past. Nebiros, the demon who had fused Dan into the Blue Devil costume, was blasting him with some sort of heat vision.

"You see," Neron continued, "since Nebiros placed in you a certain amount of otherworldly energy, you could not die here." Neron looked towards one of the demons nearest him. "These demons can live here, without eating, for thousands of years." He gazed back up at Dan. "It was the same with you."

As he took another step towards Blue Devil. "Hell vomited you back up," said Neron, spitting the words out. "But it made you better. It made you stronger and more resilient. But then you left your new womb."

Neron stepped back towards his throne. "When I send my demons into the world, I never lose them." He sat back down. "They always return to me, whether they are killed or not."

Dan backed up to a safe distance from the throne. "So I returned to you too …"

Neron smiled. "Yes. Though you were not mine, you still returned. Just as my demons return in their original form," he said, as he gestured towards his many hell-spawns with a sweep of the arm, "you returned in your original form." Neron paused and frowned. "However, unlike them, I don't want you back."

"So send me back to Paris!" Dan started forward. "There may still be time to save Firestorm!"

Neron extended his hand, palm outward, and froze Blue Devil in his tracks. "Now Dan. You know I would no more do that than I would bring your friends back from the grave myself. Besides," he sneered, "I've met an old acquaintance of yours."

Neron snapped his fingers, and everything began to fade. As it faded to black, Dan heard Neron say, "And he very much wants to see you again."

Chapter Two

The world slowly faded back into view. As Blue Devil slowly faded back into reality, he wondered where Neron had sent him, and perhaps more importantly, who was waiting for him here?

Small islands of rock floated randomly in the air. They were flat on the top, but had stalactites hanging off the bottom. Weird giant eyes dripping with pink gore floated around, staring at Dan. Some sort of purple demonic creature flew over Dan's head, muttering, "Gooby, gooby! Blob, blob!" Three-dimensional star shaped objects hung in the distance, some red, some orange, and others yellow.

As Dan fully materialized on one of the rocky islands, he looked around in fascination. "This is like something out of the Twilight Zone … " Then he remembered. He'd been here before. And somewhere around here was—

"Ho! Little Brother!" Dan groaned and lowered his head into his hands. It was Nebiros. Blue Devil dropped his arms to his side and turned to face him.

"You dare show your face in my world again!" Nebiros growled, just a few rocky islands away.

"Uh-oh!" Nebiros did not look very happy. Dan flipped backwards onto another island just as Nebiros jumped after him. As Dan jumped to the side again, a blast from Nebiros' eyes narrowly missed him. "What'd I do this time?"

"As if Nebiros would forget being betrayed on Earth and banished back to his own dimension!" As Nebiros leapt again, Dan leapt towards another island, bounced himself off the side of it, grabbed onto the rocky bottom of another island, and swung upwards, landing a few islands away from the giant, scaly, brown demon. Nebiros turned his fiery eyes towards the stunt man. "Plus," he said, eyes glowing red, "Brother Neron visited Nebiros." Dan groaned again. Oh, no. What had Neron told Nebiros? Dan leapt up from the rock, and grabbed onto a demon that flew by.

"Brother Neron told Nebiros the truth!" Nebiros jumped from rocky island to rocky island, chasing after the flying demon. Dan clung tightly to the demon's feet, scared for his life. If he lost his grip, there might not be anything to land on. "Little Brother was not a demon after all, but a man!"

"That's what I tried to tell you before," muttered Dan, as he flew over a rock and dropped from the now relieved flying demon. He spun to see how close Nebiros was. He had a couple of seconds to catch his breath.

"Now Little Brother must pay!" Nebiros leapt from island to island, growing ever nearer to Dan.

"Wait!" Dan shouted to the ugly creature. He thought quickly. "Didn't Neron look more like a man than I do?"

Nebiros stopped just a few islands away from Blue Devil. He cocked his head, actually thinking for a moment. At least, that's what Dan hoped.

Dan thought furiously, and kept talking. "Think about it! He had long blonde hair and no horns. He couldn't have been a demon!"

Nebiros looked at Blue Devil again. "But he sounded like a demon."

His mind racing, Dan flipped on his voice modulator. He muttered to himself. "Come on, Cassidy. This better work."

"DID HE SOUND LIKE THIS?" thundered Blue Devil.

"Little Brother!"

As Nebiros bound towards him, Dan turned off the voice modulator. "I guess I'm about to find out—" The huge demon scooped up the small, blue stuntman. "How glorious! Little Brother is a demon after all!"

Dan breathed a sigh of relief. Just then, a portal opened up on a rocky island next to Nebiros and Dan.

"Behold the Mystic Portal!" Nebiros leapt up to the rock with the portal on it, Blue Devil still firmly in his grasp.

"Oh, no," Dan groaned. He recognized the portal. This was the portal that had first released the demon Nebiros. It released him onto an island where Dan was filming a movie about the Blue Devil. In the movie, the Blue Devil was evil, and men were trying to capture him. But in real life, Nebiros had been the evil one, and Dan had put on his stunt suit to try to detain Nebiros. All Nebiros had wanted was a tasty human, but Dan had been determined to stop him. That was when Nebiros had blasted him with his heat vision, which had been intended to kill him. But since Nebiros thought Dan was a demon, it had instead fused Dan with his costume.

Blue Devil had finally forced Nebiros back into his own dimension, only to have to actually go into the dimension later. He had left the dimension with Nebiros, who then tried to make a temple so the people of earth would have to worship him. Dan, with the help of Zatanna, barely managed to send him back to his own dimension. And now it looked like he was going to escape again.

"Who could have possibly been stupid enough to open the portal back up?" Dan wondered aloud.

"Whoever it is," Nebiros said, "Nebiros must thank them! And," he said, looking at Blue Devil, "Nebiros and Little Brother must acquire tender morsels!"

"Here we go again," said Blue Devil, as Nebiros leapt through the portal in one swift motion, taking Dan with him. Dan only hoped that someone as powerful as Zatanna was around whenever they landed. Otherwise, Nebiros might actually succeed this time around!

Chapter Three

Lex Luthor drummed his fingers together impatiently. Through the monitor, Lex had watched one of the scientists place the devil's head amulet in the indention in the doorway. The portal had already been open for a few seconds, and there was not yet any sign of Nebiros. Lex could see his two scientists carefully checking their readouts on their computer screens.

A few years ago, Lex had thought that all the valuable artifacts had already removed from his island, "The Devil's Isle," except for the few he planned to leave there to launch a tourist attraction. But then he heard that the movie company that he had rented the island out to had stumbled across an even greater treasure. It was a portal that unleashed the demon Nebiros. Lex knew that he could use the portal against Superman. The demon would distract Superman while Lex broke Metallo out of Stryker's Island. Well, Lex wouldn't break Metallo out personally, of course—

Suddenly on Lex's monitor, all hell broke loose, literally. Nebiros leapt forth from the portal. As Lex leaned forward, he noticed Nebiros appeared to already be clutching someone. Luthor didn't have time to make out the figure before a chair went flying straight towards the camera, and static burst loudly onto Lex's monitor. Lex smiled, and picked up the phone.

Nebiros leapt for one of the scientists, and Dan finally managed to squirm from his grasp. "Little Brother has brought Nebiros morsels! Nebiros must remember to thank Little Brother!"

Blue Devil looked around the already trashed lab, trying desperately to find some way to stop Nebiros. Spotting a fire hose wrapped up behind some glass, he quickly shoved his blue hand through the glass, not feeling a thing through his insulated hand as he grabbed the hose and yanked the end out. Nebiros had somewhat of an aversion to water, as Dan had discovered in the past. Dan waited for a moment until Nebiros was in between himself and the large window that made up one of the lab's walls. "Here's hoping those people out there are ready to run," said Dan as he looked outside and saw the cars and people that were dozens of floors below them.

"Hey ugly!" yelled Dan, grasping the wheel on the base of the fire hose. Nebiros turned to him. "Eat this!" He turned the hose on full blast, and the stream of water hit Nebiros square in the chest.

"YAARRGHH!!" Nebiros stumbled backwards until the water finally pushed him outside, crashing through the window. "Little Brother will pay for this treachery …" screamed the demon, as he fell downwards towards the street. The lab shook as he landed with a loud thud, and Blue Devil grabbed his trident.

"That won't stop him for long," he said to himself, and with the trident firmly in hand, he took off for the street below.

Clark sat in a booth in a small restaurant, sipping on his cola and tried to listen to his wife tell him about her day. Since Clark no longer worked with Lois, and most of his free time was spent being Superman, he tried to meet her for lunch almost every day. Most of the time, however, a super-villain or some disaster got in the way.

" … and then Lex told me to publish it like it was. I told him he could … Are you listening to me, Clark?" she asked, cocking her head slightly to the side.

"I think I hear some sort of commotion downtown," he replied, trying to hear what was going on. Just then, Jimmy burst through the front door of the diner.

"Lois! Clark! There you are!" He ran over to the counter and changed the channel on the television. "You've got to see this"

The television came to life as Cat Grant blinked onto the screen. " … has already caused damage to five different buildings, and many cars. We're not sure if anyone has been hurt yet. The creature is being fought not by our own Superman, but by Blue Devil, who supposedly died just a few months ago."

"We've got to get down there, Lois!" Jimmy said excitedly. He spun around quickly to face Lois. "I've already got my camera and …" He trailed of suddenly. "Where'd Clark go?"

Lois smiled. Her husband was going to do what he did best, protect the people of Metropolis. She was used to having to explain his somewhat sudden disappearances.

"Oh, you know Clark," she said to Jimmy. "Once a reporter, always a reporter."

Superman flew straight into the chaos. He quickly spotted Blue Devil battling with Nebiros. He swooped down to help.

"Having a little problem?" he asked Blue Devil, as a quick super-punch to the scaly demon's face sent Nebiros flying into yet another sky-scraper.

"Superman!" exclaimed Blue Devil. "I guess this mean we're in Metropolis."

Superman shot a puzzled look Dan's way. "You mean you didn't even know where you were?" Superman took off towards Nebiros, and Blue Devil grabbed his trident and followed.

"We were stuck in Ugly's dimension, and someone opened up a portal to release us." The two reached the newly unconscious Nebiros, and Superman quickly wrapped a long, thick metal telephone pole around Nebiros, fusing the ends together with his heat vision. Before Blue Devil could even realize what had happened, he continued. "Last thing I knew, the portal opened up on Devil's Isle. Any idea who might have done such a thing?"

"Devil's Isle, huh?" Superman paused to consider. If I remember correctly, Lex Luthor bought that island a number of years ago."

Just then, Dan realized how Superman had bound Nebiros. "Uh, Supes, I hate to be picky, but I don't think that's going to hold him—"

Just then, Nebiros opened his red eyes. "So! Little Brother thinks he can stop Nebiros with the help of a flying man!" Superman glanced over to Blue Devil and raised one eyebrow. With one punch, he sent Nebiros flying up in the air.

"I guess so," Blue Devil replied. "Any idea where he'll land?"

Superman looked at Dan and grinned. "Does Hob's Bay sound good?"

Blue Devil grinned back. "Ha! You remembered how much Big Scaly hates the water!" He grabbed his trident. "We better get over there before he gets too mad." He took off, with Superman right behind him.

When they arrived at the bay, there was no sign of Nebiros anywhere.

"Where'd he go?" asked Blue Devil.

"I don't see him anywhere," said Superman.

"Maybe I can help enlighten you."

Superman and Blue Devil turned to face the person who had spoken. It was the Phantom Stranger.

"I have sent Nebiros back to his own dimension." Dan looked at him, wondering how the Stranger had managed that. The last time Blue Devil and the Phantom Stranger had been together, the Stranger hadn't been powerful enough to even send a baby demon back to Nebiros's version of hell. In fact, they'd ended up using some embarrassingly silly magical butterfly nets to return the demons.

"Don't be perplexed, Daniel," the Phantom Stranger replied. "My powers have increased greatly since the last time we met. In fact," he continued, holding out the amulet that had opened the doorway, "I have already found the key to the portal, and the amulet shall be sent to the otherworldly dimension as well." The amulet shimmered and disappeared. "This will make it highly unlikely that anyone can again free the demon Nebiros."

"Great!" said Superman.

"In fact," continued the Stranger, "I believe I can now even grant Daniel what he's wanted ever since Nebiros first fused him into the Devil suit."

Dan gasped. "You mean—"

"Yes. I can make you Daniel Cassidy once again."
Superman's eyes widened. He had met Dan early on in his career as Blue Devil, and knew how much Dan wanted to just be normal again. Superman couldn't imagine how he would cope if he never got to relax and just be Clark Kent, husband to Lois Lane.

"Do you wish to be free of the suit?" questioned the Phantom Stranger.

Blue Devil gulped. He'd been Blue Devil for some time now, and had gotten used to it. But to be human again! After the first few months, he'd pretty given up hope on the possibility. But now, much later, he had another chance!

Dan took a deep breath. "Do it."

The Phantom Stranger extended his arm out towards Blue Devil, and pointed his index finger at the tip of Blue Devil's horns. Yellow lighting streaked out from the Stranger's whole hand and formed a loop around Blue Devil's horns, just above his head. As the Stranger moved his hand slowly downward, Superman took a few steps backwards, somewhat surprised. The loop of lightning followed the directions of the Stranger's gesture, slowly moving down Dan's body. When it got right to the soles of Dan's feet, the loop closed, and the lightning streaked back to the Stranger's hand only to disappear.

Dan suddenly realized that he felt a little heavier. With Superman and the Phantom Stranger watching, he grabbed the back of his head and pulled. With one swift motion, the mask came off.

Dan put the mask under one arm and used the other to run his fingers through his hair. Wow. The wind in his hair felt better than he'd ever remembered. He was human again!

"My work here is done, for now," the Phantom Stranger said mysteriously. Flipping his cape around him, he disappeared. Dan turned towards Superman.

Superman grinned at Dan. "Congratulations!" He paused for a moment. "Dan, I wanted to ask you about what happened in Paris, but I think you need some time to get used to all this. Besides," he said, cocking his head slightly, "I think I hear sirens over on Stryker's Island." He leapt into the air. "We'll talk later," he yelled back, flying away.

"Man," was all Dan could say. He stared out at the water, not certain what to do. He took a deep breath and let it out. "Man," he said again. "I need to go buy some clothes!"

Chapter Four

"So why did you really want to meet me here, Dan?"

Dan sat across the booth from the girl who, in his opinion, was the most beautiful girl in the world. Sharon had known Dan since before he had ever donned the Blue Devil costume. In fact, they'd met just a few months prior to the beginning of production on the Blue Devil movie. But ever since Dan tried to join the Justice League America to further his career, he and Sharon had just kind of drifted apart. Dan knew that he had been selfish then, and regretted many of the decisions he'd made since then. In fact, it seemed that everything had pretty much been going downhill since he joined the JLA.

After Dan got everything in order in Metropolis, with an apartment, some money from some accounts he still had in town, he'd finally gotten some work lined up. That's when he decided the time was right to contact Sharon.

"Dan?" Sharon interrupted his thoughts as she dabbed her mouth with a napkin.

"Sorry, Sharon." Dan took a sip of water, drew in a breath, and began. "Listen, I'm really sorry about what a big jerk I've been for the past couple of years. I know I've been selfish, and I just wanted to apologize and see if there's any way we can even think about getting back together."

Sharon and Dan stared at each other for a moment. Then Sharon spoke. "Dan, I really want to be your girlfriend again." She stared down at her empty plate. "But you betrayed me." She looked up at him again. "You're right, you were very selfish."

Dan sighed. "I knew it …"

"Wait a second!" Sharon exclaimed. "Just give me a second." She continued, "Let's just take it one step at a time. I don't want to be your girlfriend just yet, but I do want to be in your life again."

Dan looked up from his empty plate and replied, "Friends, then?"

"Friends," she replied.

Dan left the money for the lunch on the table, and he and Sharon left.

"Let's take a short walk," Sharon suggested, "and you can tell me more about this movie while we try to get me a cab."

"Okay," Dan replied. "From a special effects standpoint, the movie's fairly simple. I've just got to rig up some explosions along a road. No big deal. The hard part is that another guy and I are going to be driving a couple of cars practically straight through the explosions."

"Danny! Won't that be dangerous?"

"Oh, come on!" he replied, grinning. "You know I've done way harder stuff as a super-hero. Why, even that last battle with Nebiros …" Dan trailed off as he saw Superman fly by.

"What?" asked Sharon.

"The last battle," he answered. "It really is the last battle." He turned to her. "I won't ever get to fight beside heroes like Superman again. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, with me getting back into my normal life." He snorted. "It's been a long time since I've lived what you could call a normal life."

"Well, I guess you did supposedly became a weirdness magnet," she added.

Dan allowed himself a grin. "Yeah. There was that." He sighed. "But now it's really hitting me. No more super-villains. No more battles. No more saving the galaxy. No more saving helpless people." He paused for a moment. "I guess I am just a 'helpless person' now."

"Daniel Cassidy!" Sharon smiled broadly. "I think you're actually missing being the Blue Devil!"

Dan shrugged sheepishly. Just then, a cab pulled up to the curb. Dan opened the door for Sharon. "So I'll call you?" he asked.

"I hope so," she replied. She slammed the door and the cab pulled away.

Just then, Superman flew down and landed next to Dan.

"Superman!" Dan exclaimed.

"Dan, how are you doing?" Superman asked him.

"I'm doing great. Hey, I just saw you fly by here. Where were you headed?" Dan asked.

Superman's look turned more serious. "I was just saving some people from a burning apartment building. Luckily, I managed to get them all out before the building collapsed. I extinguished the fire after that. Nothing you haven't done before." Superman grinned. "At least, back when you were still in the super-hero business."

Dan looked down and sighed. "Yeah, I actually miss that stuff more than I thought." He looked back up at Superman. "You know, helping people and all that."

"You can still help people, Dan," Superman replied. "Anyone can help others people."

"I know," Dan answered, "but it's just not the same."

"Well, I hear someone trying to rob a convenience store, so I had better go." Superman started to take off, then stopped for a moment in midair. "Remember, Dan, we can all help others."

Chapter Five

Dan stared at the open road that was over his steering wheel. Tony's car was a few yards in front of him, and he could see in the distance the filming crew off to the side of the road. As he waited to hear the word over his headset, he went over the timing of the explosions in his head.

All along the road there were charges set up to go off around Dan's car and Tony's car as they drove through and around them. They were all carefully timed, and Dan had set them up himself. This whole shot was pretty expensive, at least as far as this particular movie went. They only got one shot on this.

The camera crew was up ahead, off to the side of the road. In addition, a helicopter was going to be following them, filming them from behind, with just a little bit of elevation. In the final version of the movie, the helicopter would appear to be shooting missiles at them, but that was for the computer graphics people to add in.

"Ready!" Dan heard the stunt coordinator's voice over his headphones. "5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … GO!" Dan slammed his foot down on his accelerator, and he knew Tony was doing the same. He counted to himself, readying himself for the explosions.

"15!" Dan yelled aloud. BOOM! An explosion went off right behind Dan's car. Exhilarating, and it was perfect timing.

"18!" BOOM! There went one just off to their right. Dan gripped the steering wheel.

"20!" BOOM! This one went off just to their left.

"22!" What? Dan's mind raced. Where was—BOOM!!

As Dan looked on in horror, the explosion went off under the right side of Tony's car. As Tony's car was thrown up and to the left, Dan swerved to the right, slammed on his brakes, and spun 90 degrees, until he was blocking the road. After the car screeched to a halt, Dan jumped out and ran off the road, back to Tony's upside-down, smoking car. He raced around it, and found Tony pinned underneath. It looked like he had been thrown out during the explosion, and the car had somehow flipped and landed on him.

"Hold on, Tony!" Dan yelled. "I'll have this thing off you in a second!"

Dan scooted over about a foot and grabbed the car where the windows had busted out. He gripped the door as hard as he could, and tried to flip the car off Tony.

Nothing. Dan stopped, and his arms dropped to his side. He had forgotten. He didn't have super strength any more. He wasn't Blue Devil, super-hero, anymore. He was just Dan Cassidy.

Quickly, he jumped back over to where Tony was pinned under the car. Tony's breathing was ragged, and he didn't look too good.

"Don't worry, buddy," Dan said. He looked down the road to see if the crew was coming. They were all running down the road towards them. He turned back to Tony. "Everyone's coming. You'll be fine."

"Dan," Tony said through gasps of breath. "Don't worry." He wheezed for a second. "It wasn't your fault."

"You're going to make it, Tony!"

Tony's breaths grew shorter. "Tell my wife," he wheezed, "tell her I love her."
Tony stopped breathing.

Chapter Six

Dan walked down the sidewalk with Sharon.
"The thing was," he said, "I didn't even remember I wasn't Blue Devil." He sighed. "I can live with screwing up the explosion, and I can even live with Tony dying. But the worst part," he said, stopping and turning to face Sharon, "the worst part was that I made the choice."

"What choice?" Sharon asked.

"The choice not to be Blue Devil," he replied, looking down at the sidewalk. "I could have saved him, if only I'd still been Blue Devil."

"But you deserve a normal life, Dan. You deserve—Ah!"

Dan looked up. Some kid who looked like he'd lived his whole life on street was holding a gun to Sharon's head and holding her by the arm. Dan looked, and saw that the punk must have stepped out of the alley they had stopped in front of. Sharon was biting her lower lip, obviously scared for her life.

"Give me your purse, lady!" the punk yelled.

"Oh, you picked the wrong couple," Dan said under his breath. Then he spoke louder to the kid. "What make you think we'll give you our money?"

The kid looked confused and nervous. "Because," he said. He looked around. "I'll really kill her!"

This kid was obviously bothered. "Yeah, right," he said. He reached out to grab the gun from the punk.

BLAM!

Sharon's body slumped to the ground, lifeless. Dan stared for a moment, shocked, while the punk raised his gun to aim it at Dan.

"You slimy little …" Even as Dan said the words and started to look up, the words and actions seemed much slower than he had meant them to be. As Dan raised his eyes and head, he saw the kid's finger very slowly tighten on the trigger.

BBBLLLAAAMMM!!!

This explosion from the chamber of the gun seemed louder somehow, and definitely more drawn out. Dan actually saw the bullet exit the chamber of the gun and shoot out at him, but right before it reached his head, it slowed to a stop. Dan saw that the punk was not moving, but he couldn't move either. As he looked in the alley the punk had stepped out of, he noticed old copies of the Daily Planet suspended in midair, as if they were frozen in mid-blow. Behind it, the mist was hanging still in the air.

"The situation has deteriorated somewhat since we last spoke, Daniel."

The Phantom Stranger stepped out of the mists, his cape flowing around him. He walked towards Dan. First he stopped and looked at Sharon's body. "A pity you couldn't save her," he said, his voice filled with sorrow. He took another step and pointed out the bullet in front of Dan's head. "And you were next." He stepped back. "All because you chose not to be Blue Devil."

The Phantom Stranger extended his index finger out towards Dan. "But it doesn't have to end this way, Daniel."

Dan, still petrified, found himself surrounded by yellow lightning. Then everything went white.

Chapter Seven

Dan blinked, trying to regain his vision. As the whiteness slowly faded, he began to make out three still figures. They were apparently standing by some sort of bay, though it looked like there was a city not very far across the water …

Suddenly, Dan realized that the city was Metropolis. The bay had to be Hob's Bay, and the figures were …

The people were Blue Devil, Superman and the Phantom Stranger.

"Odd, isn't it."

Blue Devil turned to see another Phantom Stranger standing beside him. Of course, that wasn't very odd, since Dan was also in two places at once. Dan then realized that Superman, the other Dan and the other Phantom Stranger were not moving at all. In fact, the very birds in the sky and the waves in the bay were not moving. Very much like the scene Dan had just left.

"Mere moments in time," said the Stranger, gesturing towards the motionless trio. Dan turned back to look at him again. "Moments, yet more than moments." The Stranger turned to look at Dan. "For a moment can affect many lives."

Dan slowly moved over towards himself, thinking aloud. "This … This is the moment before you asked me if I wanted to be changed back to my human self." He circled around himself.

"Everyone has a destiny," said the Phantom Stranger. "Some are meant to be carpenters, some writers. Some are meant to be teachers, some are meant to be students. Some are meant to be saved, and some," he said, looking directly at Dan, "are meant to save them."

The Stranger began to circle around Dan and the unmoving trio. "Some heroes are from other worlds, and some are human. Some are born with super powers, and some get them later, either by accident or on purpose. Some are willing," he said, stopping between the stationary Stranger and Blue Devil, "and some are reluctant."

"Me," Dan whispered aloud. "I was reluctant."

"Indeed."

Dan began pacing. "When I first got turned into the Blue Devil, I wanted nothing more than to be normal again. But I guess that's what happens when you're not really ready for something."

Dan stopped and looked up at the blue figure standing before him. "But now I know. I need to be Blue Devil, and people out there need for Blue Devil to be there for them."

"It is still your decision, Daniel," the Phantom Stranger said, stepping into the non-moving Stranger. "Just step in as soon as you're ready."

Dan looked at his hands, touched the tips of his normal ears, ran his fingers through his hair, and took a deep breath. Then he stepped into the Blue Devil, into himself …

Epilogue

"Yes. I can make you Daniel Cassidy once again."
Dan looked up as he noticed Superman's eyes widening. Dan grinned and checked just to make sure his horns were back, and his ears were pointed again. They were.

"Do you wish to be free of the suit?" questioned the Phantom Stranger.

Everyone has a destiny, but not everyone gets a second chance to do it right. Dan would miss being human, but even more than that he would love getting to help others.

"Nah," Blue Devil answered, as Superman looked on, puzzled. Dan looked over at him, and shrugged. "What can I say? The world needs a Blue Devil."

"If you say so, Dan," Superman replied. "I thought for sure you'd jump at the chance to—" He stopped, cocking his head slightly to the side.

"Let me guess," said Blue Devil, grabbing his trident. "Breakout on Stryker's Island?"

"How'd you—" Superman started.

"Don't worry about it, Supes," he replied. "Let's just go kick some super-villain butt!"

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This story is © 1999 by Tim J. Priebe.

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