This is a sequel to Martian Manhunter Earth Pi, so it might be a good idea to read that first. All thanks to The Lady Isis for being my Beta on this one.
In a town in the middle of the US the afternoon quiet is broken by the sound of gunfire, then a few minutes later three masked and armed men run out of a local bank, each carrying a black duffel bag filled with stolen cash. The three men pile into a car driven by a fourth masked man and take off with sirens incoming.
"You're gonna get us lost, man!" one of the crooks in the back seat shouts at the driver, who is taking a rather erratic driving patern.
"I'm following the King's instructions exactly, so just calm down," the driver answers.
"Did he say anything about what to do against that?" the other man in the back answers, pointing out the back window. The driver looks in his rear view window to see the Martian Manhunter flying after them.
"In fact, he did," the driver answers, putting his finger over a switch on the dashboard.
When the green alien superhero gets close and reaches for the speeding car, the man behind the wheel hits the switch which causes the entire vehicle to be covered in a coat of flames. J'onn pulls away quickly but his hand still catches fire, and he struggles to put it out as his prey speeds away.
"That's awesome! Burn, bastard!" the fleeing robbers shout in joy.
"What did I tell ya? The Getaway King thinks of everything," the driver tells them with a smile on his face.
"Um...he's back," one man says nervously in the passenger seat.
Everyone looks and sees a now much-angrier Martian chasing them down again. "This guy doesn't know when to give up does he?" one of the men in the back seat asks.
"The capes never do," the man next to him answers.
"Yeah, but that don't mean they can't be stopped," the driver says before hitting a button.
This one causes the trunk to open and two nozzles to point out. He then hits a switch next to the button and shoots a big gout of flame backwards at their pursuer. The men watch in shock and awe as the fire speeds backwards, and then once it's gone the superhero is nowhere to be seen.
"Did we get him?" the driver asks, weaving through traffic at high speeds.
"Don't see him," one bank robber answers.
"We must have!" another shouts happily.
As the criminals shout and laugh in victory, their car is lifted high into the air. The men look around scared for a second before the vehicle is flipped up virtically, so that the back half is pointed directly at the ground. Then through the windshield they see the Martian Manhunter's head peek up from over the front of their car and stare down at them with his red eyes.
"Turn off the flames," J'onn demands.
Smiling sheepishly the driver does as he's told. "Hey man, can we...talk about this?" he asks.
When the police finally get to them the car is upside down on the ground with several large holes in it, and all four of the men are sitting on top of it tied up in repurposed seat belts, the bags full of money are sitting between them, and the guns are crushed and strewn around the car.
As the cops get out and look over their quarry one says, "Gift-wrapped them for us. That was nice of him."
"Yeah," his partner agrees. "Looks like the Getaway King is going to have to change his name."
Later J'onn is back at the Erdel house putting ice on his hand. The door opens and Shelly walks in carrying bags of groceries. "Hey I'm back, guys, and don't worry I didn't forget the cookies," she says stepping in. Seeing J'onn she puts down the bags and hurries over to him. "You okay?" she asks, trying to get a good look at his wound.
"I'll be fine," he assures her. "Unfortunately it appears that the Getaway King knows of my weakness." He looks down at the grocery bags and says, "You said that you brought cookies?"
Shelly rolls her eyes, then retrieves the bag, opens it, and pops a cookie into J'onn's mouth as he cradles his hand and holds the ice pack to it. "So what happened exactly?"
I stopped a group of bank robbers, though their car was fitted with various fire producing add-ons which I was not expecting, J'onn telepathically communicates as his mouth is busy munching.
"Please don't talk with your mouth full, hon, its a bit creepy," Shelly tells him.
J'onn swallows and says, "Apologies."
The phone rings and Shelly answers it, she then hands it to J'onn saying, "Its your policewoman friend."
"Hello, Officer Callahan," he greets her.
"You should really invest in a cellphone, its a bit unprofessional to have your only phone number belong to your girlfriend's father," Callahan says.
"Shelly and I are not in a romantic relationship, officer, though your interest is not unappreciated. I would like to get a phone of my own but work has been a little scarce lately," he answers.
"Well, I can help with the work problem, I want your thoughts on something," she tells him.
"What's the case?" J'onn asks.
"Come see for yourself," she answers.
A few minutes later, J'onn is in his "John Jones" form and is walking down a dark alley after ducking under a piece of yellow crimescene tape. He sees Callahan standing over a dead body thats been marked by the forensics team.
"You need my help in a murder investigation, Officer?" he asks stepping closer.
"Its a weird one, so I'd appreciate your input. Oh, and it's 'Detective' now," she answers.
J'onn looks down at the victim and begins to analyze the body, speaking his thoughts out loud. "Woman, between twenty and twenty five, possibly of Latino decent, heavily muscular, dressed in what appear to be work out clothes, with signs of a struggle evident by her knuckles, and the bruises on her exposed arms and legs. Was she found face-down?" J'onn asks.
"Yeah, but its the face part that's interesting," she answers.
She puts on a pair of gloves, leads J'onn to the other side of the body, hands him a pen light, then hunches down and carefully moves the girl's head just enough so that her face is visible. Or so much that her face would be visible, because where the young woman should have eyes, a nose, and a mouth there is instead massive black scar. "Medical examiner says it looks like something was pressed into her face that was so hot it charred the flesh and bone and fused everything together into one flat black..." she lets the sentence hang as she carefully puts the poor girl's head back down.
"Death was quick," J'onn says.
"God I hope so," Callahan answers. Then she looks at J'onn. "That wasn't a question, was it?"
"No, I've seen this method of murder before," he answers.
"Where?" she asks.
"In Lar'fen'dival, on Mars," J'onn answers, "three hundred and forty years ago."
The detective blinks at that. "Well, I was wondering how long we were going to keep up that act," she says. "So the perp was an old friend of yours?"
"No, she was executed centuries ago. Whoever murdered this poor girl did it this way intentionally to leave me a message," he answers.
"So an old enemy is trying to screw with you?" she asks.
"I don't have any old enemies, or friends, or acquaintances. Every other Martian is dead, and has been dead for centuries," he explains.
Callahan looks down at the woman's body again and asks, "Do Martians have ghosts?"
Later J'onn goes back to the Erdel's house and finds the good doctor working in his laboratory again. "Oh, hello, J'onn, I've just been making a few tweaks," he answers standing up.
"Doctor, have you used this machine since you brought me here?" J'onn asks.
"No. I have so much data from your journey to look through I haven't tried using it again yet. Why?" he asks.
J'onn sits down, collects his thoughts, then tells Erdel about the murder. "What do you think?" he asks.
"I'm a scientist, not a detective...but it sounds like too much to be a coincidence," Dr. Erdel answers.
J'onn thinks it over for a bit then says, "After Ma'bel was executed her weapon was put into permanent storage in the Manhunter Archives. It should still be there. Can you send me back to Mars? I need to find out if someone took the weapon."
"I was only planning on using the transporter on beans J'onn, I don't think it's ready for use of living beings yet," he answers.
"I survived one trip through it already," J'onn says.
"Yes, but for all we know that could have been a one in a million chance, and if we tried it again you could be badly injured or killed," the doctor explains.
"I'm willing to take the chance," he tells him.
Under pressure from J'onn's intense stare Dr. Erdel recreates the teleportation experiment with the can of beans. When the can returns unharmed J'onn takes its place on the platform.
"How long do you need?" the doctor asks.
"It should only take me an hour," the Martian answers.
"Alright, I'll bring you back in one hour, and if you're not there then I'll try again an hour after that," Erdel tells him. "You know Shelly is going to kill me for this, right?"
"Then lets get this done before she has a chance to find out," he answers.
Erdel throws a few switches, there is a flash of darkness, and then J'onn is back home under a red sky. Once again J'onn stands alone in the middle of an empty city and he shudders at the memory of weeks spent burning the bodies of his dead people before he pushes the memory away and heads in the direction of the Archives.
The building that houses the Manhunter Archives is square, small, and only one story high, but it reaches almost a mile underground. J'onn walks up to the building to find the door open and the lights on inside. He floats in and sees footprints on dust and dirt on the floor and follows them to an elevator.
Once inside the lift he asks the computer, "Computer, what was the last floor this elevator was taken to?"
"Lobby," the computer answers.
"What was the last floor before that that this elevator was taken to?" J'onn asks, slightly frustrated by the stupid machine.
"43," the computer answers.
J'onn presses the button and swiftly goes to the selected floor. Once the door opens J'onn sees more footprints leading down the hall. J'onn floats over the footprints and follows them to a storage locker, the locker that was supposed to contain Ma'bel's weapon. The door to the locker was left open, and instead of the weapon inside there is instead a picture of a human woman. J'onn takes the picture, looks at it, then accesses a console on a nearby wall. "Computer, show me all the security footage for the last week," he orders.
In answer, the computer just shows him static.
An hour later, J'onn materializes back in Dr. Erdel's laboratory to find Shelly waiting there with a very angry look on her face. "Well, congratulations, you managed to do something incredibly stupid without killing yourself," she tells him. J'onn doesn't look at her though, he just stares down at the picture in his hand. "J'onn? J'onn are you alright?" she asks him concerned.
"J'onzz!" the doctor shouts, trying to get the Martian's attention.
J'onn looks up, looks at the both of them, then speeds out the door. He flies at great speed across the city and then phases through the a building's wall and into the apartment of Harriet Callahan.
"Jesus Christ!" the detective woman shouts from her computer chair in shocked surprise.
"I'm sorry, are you having a heart attack?" J'onn asks.
"No, but good try," Callahan answers, trying to catch her breath.
"I apologize, I'll knock next time. Did you identify the murder victim?" he asks.
"Huh? Yeah, yeah. Her name's Isabel del Toro, she was a professional martial artist and an up incoming ultimate fighter," she answers.
"Is this her?" J'onn asks, showing her the picture he found in the Archives.
Callahan looks at the picture quietly for a second before she hits a few keys on her keyboard and turns the monitor to show a picture of the same woman as J'onn's picture, and the name under the picture is Isabel del Toro.
"J'onn, where did you find this?" she asks.
"On Mars," he answers.
TBC. Reviews are welcome and appreciated.