Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

The Vile Vial

We Now Take You Live

by Nicolas Juzda

"Good evening, and welcome to the WGBS six o'clock news for Midway City. I'm Brenda Peterson. Coming up later on tonight's program, we'll be looking at U.S.-Quraci relations under the Luthor administration, taking a peak at S.T.A.R. Labs' latest breakthroughs, and interviewing tennis champion Bette Kane. But first, our top story.

"Jonathan Crane, more commonly knows as the villainous Scarecrow, has been sighted in town several times today. Though technically not a metahuman, Scarecrow has devised unique chemicals and gasses relating to the emotion of fear. Normally active in Gotham City, he has been one of many costumed criminals to widen his horizons in recent months. He was thwarted by Supergirl in the town of Leesburg not long ago, then was apprehended by the team of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, and most recently tangled with ordinary citizen Dr. Terrence Thirteen. One of our reporters, Joe Klein, caught up with Dr. Thirteen earlier today."

KLEIN: So, doctor, you're not a meta-human or costumed vigilante. Tackling someone like Scarecrow is unusual for you, isn't it?

THIRTEEN: Yes. Actually, he wasn't using his Scarecrow alias when I encountered him. You see, he was betting wealthy businessmen large sums of money that they would not be able to spend a night in a so-called "haunted house". Then, during the night, he'd gradually pump the place full of his gasses until-

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but there's been a breaking development in the Scarecrow case. We take you now live to the First National Bank, where moments ago a silent alarm was triggered. Brad Winters is on scene."

WINTERS: Thanks, Brenda. We're outside of the bank now, behind police lines. As you can see behind me, the police have cordoned off the building, and are waiting to proceed. Here, we'll try to get a better angle. My cameraman is going to approach the building as closely as possible. Can you see anything now, Brenda?

"I think I can see something through the window. That's the Scarecrow on the left, facing off against some sort of costumed archer."

WINTERS: Yes, Brenda, I think you're right. It could be Green Arrow.

"No, I'm pretty sure his costume is green. That's more orange."

WINTERS: Arsenal, perhaps? I think his costume is kind of orange.

"Actually, Brad, according to my station manager, that's… uh… Yellow Feather."

WINTERS: Who?

"He's… he's one of the Inferior Five."

WINTERS: Oh.

"But I'm told they've actually got a decent track record. More or less."

WINTERS: I see. Wait, did you see that? Yellow Feather leapt back in terror. I didn't see any gas, though. The Scarecrow just kind of waved his hands.

"I think he may also have said something. It's hard to tell with the picture you're supplying, and he is wearing a mask, but I think he did."

WINTERS: Any guess as to what he said?

"It looked like 'boo'."

WINTERS: Riiiiiight.

"I'm sorry, Brad, but we're going to have to cut away. We've got reports of another metahuman conflict occurring right downtown. We take you now to John Beckett in our news chopper.

BECKETT: Hi. I'm John Beckett, in the WGBS news chopper. We're flying to the corner of Fifth and Main, right in the heart of downtown Midway, where we've got reports of an unspecified metahuman hero and villain locked in mortal combat.

"Any clue which metahumans are involved?"

BECKETT: No word yet as to the hero, but the report indicated it was an older Flash villain, dating from before Wally West earned the mantle.

"It's probably a Barry Allen foe, then. I doubt any of the villains Jay Garrick faced are still around. Hmmm… that could be Heat Wave, the Trickster, Captain Boomerang-"

BECKETT: The Turtle.

"Pardon?"

BECKETT: We're on site now. And I think it's the Turtle. He's just this guy in a green turtleneck.

"Well, this battle should be over quickly, then. As I recall, the Turtle moved really slowly. He should hardly be a match for… who is that floating guy in the green suit?

BECKETT: The Blimp.

"I haven't heard of… okay, apparently he's another member of the Inferior Five. What's happening now, John?"

BECKETT: The Turtle has just launched a punch at the Blimp.

BECKETT: …

BECKETT: …

BECKETT: It connected. Now I think the Blimp is trying to kick him.

BECKETT: …

BECKETT: …

BECKETT: I think the Turtle is trying to duck.

BECKETT: …

BECKETT: …

"I'd like to remind our viewers at home that this is NOT a slow motion replay. This is a live broadcast. That really is the speed they're moving at."

BECKETT: And I think the Turtle ducked in time.

"John, we'll get back to you to see how this story unfolds. We're now going back to Brad Winters at the First National Bank, where the villainous Scarecrow is battling Yellow Feather. Brad?"

WINTERS: Yes, Brenda. The battle inside the building has taken an interesting twist. For the past several minutes, the Scarecrow has been launching various fear toxins at Yellow Feather, to no apparent effect. Several police officers near the building inhaled some of the gases, and are now being treated for a variety of phobias, including fears of spiders, snakes, rats, puppies, enclosed spaces, open spaces, the color blue, downturns in the stock market, and Regis Philbin. But, as I said, Yellow Feather did not react at all to exposure to these gases.

"I'm told that according to our file on him, Yellow Feather already suffered from all of those phobias."

WINTERS: That might explain it then, Brenda. Regardless, the Scarecrow is apparently uncertain how to proceed now. He's just standing there, staring at his opponent incredulously.

"Thanks for the update Brad. And an unprecedented third simultaneous metahuman confrontation has just erupted at the Midway City University. Candy Simmons is there now."

SIMMONS: Good evening. Here in this place of learning and reflection, devastation seems all the more out of place. And yet, devastation there is, thanks to that woman. Alas, I'm not familiar with this particular harbinger of destruction. Brenda?

"It's… hold on a second while I get that information… well, of COURSE it would have to be… it's Dumb Bunny. Another of the Inferior Five. But, I thought the Inferior Five were supposed to be heroes…"

SIMMONS: Perhaps. But there's nothing heroic about this tragic waste. That collapsed building behind me was once the campus library, where for generations students would come to feed their developing intellects. Now-"

"Yes, thank you. But didn't you report moments ago that there was a confrontation between two metahumans going on? I can only see Dumb Bunny back there. Is the other metahuman still there?"

SIMMONS: He is. This man lying on the ground beside me attempted to stop that mad rampage, from which naught but tears could result. But unfortunately, he failed. We're waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

"Hold on a second, Candy. My producer is telling me that you caught the battle on film, and we're going to replay it for our audience."

DUMB BUNNY: All these stupid books! They make my head hurt!

I.Q.: Desist, miscreant. For I, I.Q., shall thwart your nefarious schemes.

DUMB BUNNY: Huh?

I.Q.: (Sigh) Stop.

DUMB BUNNY: Oh… You can't make me!

I.Q.: Can't I? My intellect is vastly superior to the average human's. There is no way you can outwit me, for my massive brainpower can detect and exploit the flaws in any plan you implement.

DUMB BUNNY: Plans are tough. I'll just punch you.

I.Q.: Uh oh.

"Ouch, that must have hurt. We'll update you folks at home about I.Q.'s status later in the program. But first, for those of you wondering why the heroic Dumb Bunny was on a rampage, and why the normally villainous I.Q. was defending the public, we present this statement, just released by Metropolis Police Special Crimes Unit Inspector Maggie Sawyer."

SAWYER: Ladies and gentlemen of the press. We have just received word from Superman that several prominent metahumans may have been affected by a personality altering virus. This virus may cause amoral action among metahumans who normally aid in law enforcement, as well as possibly heroic action by metahuman criminals. We do not yet have confirmation as to which specific metahumans have been infected. I cannot comment further at this time.

"There you have it. With Dumb Bunny's rampage continuing, the student body has been evacuated. Candy, do you have any idea what the reaction among the students has been to this tragedy?

SIMMONS: I did have occasion to speak with one young man enrolled here, who told me, quote, 'Alright! A hot chick in spandex is busting up campus and classes are cancelled. All that's missing is free beer,' unquote. Clearly an example of the famed Midway ability to find the silver lining to any cloud, even one so dark as this.

"The resilience of youth, indeed.

"For those of you just tuning it, we have three separate metahuman crises occurring simultaneously. Three members of the super-team the Inferior Five, possibly infected by a personality altering virus, are involved in various confrontations throughout Midway City. The super-strong heroine known as Dumb Bunny has just defeated the normally villainous genius I.Q., also possibly affected by the virus. Meanwhile, at the First National Bank, there is a stand-off between the archer called Yellow Feather and Gotham's notorious Scarecrow. Finally, we take you to John Beckett, for an aerial view of the combat between The Blimp and Flash foe The Turtle."

BECKETT: Okay, now he's kicking.

BECKETT: …

BECKETT: …

BECKETT: Ooooh. Right in the stomach. And the Turtle is reacting with what looks like the beginning of an uppercut.

BECKETT: …

"We'll return to this story later. Over at the First National Bank, what's going on, Brad?"

WINTERS: The Scarecrow seems to have the upper hand. Although his gasses proved ineffective, he's discovered that he can unnerve his opponent with loud noises and sudden movements. Even from here, you can actually see how Yellow Feather keeps jumping back and whimpering whenever the Scarecrow employs that tactic.

"Brad, there is now evidence that it may be the Scarecrow who is on the side of justice in this instance."

WINTERS: Oh, thank God.

"Any thoughts on why the Scarecrow doesn't overpower Yellow Feather, Brad?"

WINTERS: Well, Yellow Feather does still have that bow and arrow. The Scarecrow may be hesitant about forcing the archer to use them. Especially if, as you say, the Scarecrow is now on the side of justice, since there are still numerous innocent bystanders trapped inside the building.

"You could be right.

"My goodness. Now yet another member of the Inferior Five, Awkwardman, has been spotted outside of City Hall, threatening to destroy it. This leaves only the team leader, Merryman, unaccounted for. We'll return to Brad Winters and the confrontation at the First National Bank later, as we take you now to John Beckett in the WGBS new copper near there. John?"

BECKETT: Nothing has happened, Brenda. They move… so… slowly. I just can't take it anymore. Can I just get Gus to land this thing and I'll go punch them both out? I'm pretty sure I could do it.

"Uh… We're sending you to City Hall, John."

BECKETT: Thank you. Oh, thank you. I couldn't take another minute of this.

"You're quite close to City Hall already, John. Can you see anything?"

BECKETT: Yes. That's Awkwardman in the blue costume, and who is that other guy?

"He's… oh no. Oh no. Get out of there, John!"

BECKETT: Uh, Brenda, who is he?

"He's Major Disaster!"

BECKETT: Wait a second, Brenda, something just happened. As you can see, Awkwardman just fell through that glass pane those two guys were holding and knocked over those crates of watermelons. I'm not sure at this time if Major Disaster somehow caused it or if he just tripped. Gus, fly us in closer for a better look.

"You don't understand what could happen!"

BECKETT: I can see that Major Disaster is doing something, and Awkwardman just tripped again and fell into him, and… I think that whatever he does, his shot just went wild… oh, man, look at that guy on the bike… maybe he can avoid hitting the power lines… well, no, but hopefully it's just teetering and won't fall over… never mind… I can't believe it hit BOTH those cars…

BECKETT: Geez, I hope that fireball doesn't hit those gas pumps… okay, it did… that tree was planted when the town was founded, over a century ago… I know wood is supposed to burn, but you wouldn't think quite that fast… those poor, poor little squirrels… but that'll be the end of it, unless, wait, Awkwardman just fell and got some of the flames on him, and now he's… oh no, not that… where did that truck full of popcorn kernels come from, anyway?… oh, geez, somehow it's managed to start that wrecking ball machine… I hope that china shop was insured… well, there goes City Hall… uh, we're going to be pulling back now, so that none of that flaming debris sailing through the air hits us…

"Oh, the humanity."

BECKETT: I believe that the building was cleared out in time, but the loss of that historic site is a loss for us all. Uh, Gus, maybe you should pull us a bit further-

"We seem to have lost our connection with John, but I'm sure these technical difficulties will be cleared up momentarily.

"In the meantime, as we take a moment to reflect on this disaster, I would like to comfort our viewers with a note that I.Q., who was injured earlier trying to protect our Midway University campus, suffered only superficial wounds and has returned to attempt to apprehend Dumb Bunny.

"As some of our older viewers may recall, I.Q. started his criminal career right here in Midway, battling Hawkman. However, a statement by Metropolis Special Crimes Unit Inspector Maggie Sawyer seems to confirm what his actions this evening have clearly shown. Today, I.Q. is a hero.

"Meanwhile, unofficial sources in the police department have confirmed that their reluctance to interfere in any of the combats raging in our city is due to the confusion regarding reports of a metahuman virus that may mean the heroes are now villains and vice versa.

"As part of our continuing live coverage of Midway's current crisis, we take you now to Candy Simmons, still on-scene at Midway University."

SIMMONS: I.Q., his wounds healed thanks to the heroic efforts of the Midway medical community, who prove everyday that you don't need superhuman abilities to make a difference, is going to attempt to stop any further destruction by attempting to reason with Dumb Bunny.

I.Q.: Ms. Dumb Bunny, I have been informed that you are normally a super-heroine. So you must see that these acts of wanton destruction may provide some emotional catharsis, but that does not justify the great harm you are doing to your fellow citizenry. Though you yourself may have difficulty availing of the opportunities this institution presents-

DUMB BUNNY: I'm going to punch you harder now.

I.Q.: What? Wait! OWWWWWWWWW! God, it hurts, it hurts, it HURTS! Oh BEEEEEP!

SIMMONS: Uh, apparently I.Q. has met a slight setback.

"Hold on a second, Candy.

"Though WGBS reporter John Beckett had left the scene of the pitched conflict between Dumb Bunny's teammate The Blimp and the Turtle several moments ago, we've just received a telephone tip that the battle has met an unexpected result. A group of elementary school children overwhelmed both parties before either managed to react. We'll be covering that story in full later in the program.

"And now I'm getting word that there's also been some development in the battle outside City Hall. We've reestablished our video feed with John Beckett, who is reporting live from the WGBS copper."

BECKETT: I told you I could have taken them. I mean, they were moving so BEEEPing slowly-"

"Yes, John. Now, what's this latest development? Both Major Disaster and Awkwardman seem to have been engulfed by some sort of large gelatinous mass down there…"

BECKETT: Yeah, that's Jell-O.

"John?"

BECKETT: See that truck over there? That was full of Jell-O boxes. Awkwardman fell and smashed it open; it turns out he had some super-strength, if you can believe it. And that big crack in the sidewalk includes a busted water line. Major Disaster blew that open. I can't remember whose fault the gaseous coolant leak was, though.

"There appear to be two other people partially trapped in there."

BECKETT: I think they're just innocent bystanders. We flew in real close for a few moments after the fight was over, and I think the woman called the guy "Vext" or something.

"Right, John. We'll return to you shortly, but first Brad Winters has just informed my producer that the battle between Scarecrow and Yellow Feather has ended as well. We take you now to the First National Bank for the full story."

WINTERS: The Scarecrow has triumphed over Yellow Feather. According to one of the tellers in the bank, the Scarecrow was, ironically enough, initially stymied by the task of creating fear through non-artificial means. However, once he began to detail a particularly vivid description of the urban legend of the so-called "Bat-Man" of Gotham, Yellow Feather fainted dead away.

"Well, I have heard it said that criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot, John."

WINTERS: Ha ha. Yes, Brenda, especially in this case.

"Any word yet on whether they were in fact infected with the metahuman virus we heard about earlier?"

WINTERS: We don't have positive confirmation yet, but eyewitness accounts seem to indicate it's likely. Yellow Feather was trying to rob the bank, and Scarecrow stopped him.

"For which we are all grateful."

WINTERS: Wait, here comes the Scarecrow now. Hello, Scarecrow.

SCARECROW: Pardon me?

WINTERS: I'm Brad Winters, with WGBS news. Any words for the folks at home?

SCARECROW: Yes. I'd like to reassure them that me and my forces in the Justice League Task Force have the situation well in hand. We are even now neutralizing the threat the rogue members of the Inferior Five pose to your fair city. You have nothing to fear. Excepting, of course, any of your normal phobias.

WINTERS: Say, it's kinda funny that you, the master of fear, had so much trouble defeating a guy who is scared of just about everything, isn't it?

SCARECROW: No comment.

WINTERS: Do you think that having such a tough time scaring, of all people, Yellow Feather, will hurt your reputation?

SCARECROW: This interview is over.

WINTERS: I mean, don't you think the Joker will laugh at… don't you think the Riddler will laugh at you?

SCARECROW: Keep it up, pal, if you're looking for a real bad case of stage fright.

WINTERS: Thank you for your time, Mr. Scarecrow.

"I've just gotten word of new developments in Dumb Bunny's attacks on the University. There too, justice has apparently triumphed in the form of a most unlikely champion. Dumb Bunny has in fact been foiled by I.Q., who devised a specially reinforced device to capture her: a titanium steel Chinese finger trap. We'll go to Candy Simmons with an exclusive interview with I.Q. shortly.

"What a night it's been, huh folks? Four separate instances involving members of the super-heroic Inferior Five turning to crime, all foiled by super-villains acting heroically. But now it's over, and we can take a moment to reflect on-

"I'm sorry, we've just gotten a report of another super-battle…

"Merryman versus the Prankster.

"MERRYMAN versus the BEEEPing PRANKSTER?

"That's it. I'm going home. Let the weather guy finish the show."

 
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