Chapter 5 - Super-Rashomon
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Green Lantern BJ Hunnicutt rose.
"Here, ladies and gents, is what happened on the night in question. On this night--a great hero surrendered his ideals. I don't blame him for doing what he did. But for Superman, cold-blooded murder is completely unacceptable. Period."
ONE MONTH PRIOR, NEWSOME TOYS
Winslow Newsome, aka The Toyman, grinned as he cleaned a small white wedding gown in bleach. Bound and gagged, Erin Hunnicutt saw a large meat-locker, and realized she would soon be hanging in it.
"I always marry my children before I take them, Erin. Sometimes they don't want to be my brides. Adam Grant didn't. So I made it rough for him. Don't be rough, Erin. Be Nice."
Outside the charnel house was the assembled Justice League. Newsome had become horribly predictable, particularly since Cassandra Grant had broken his hands so thoroughly. Understandably, BJ fumed.
"Kal--just keep me away from him. I-I want to kill him!"
Hawkeye Kent knew that keeping Newsome alive would be a task. It always was, and it was a task he was getting tired of.
"Remember, Beej--rules. By the Book."
Foregoing any battle-cry, Superman bid the League move in.
The two Flashes went in first, deliberately tripping any traps they could find. Cha'arls Win'ch'tr searched the place up and down telepathically, to try and find any stashed victims Newsome might have left alive. Sidney Freedman asked his underwater friends to help in the grisly search for bodies in the river. On the JLA Satellite, a Wonder Woman who feared her Amazon's rage stood guard over the mortal kin of the heroes, lest Newsome be part of a larger plot. Batman's job was simplest and yet most challenging--block off any escape route for the murderer.
Frank Burns knew every alley in Gotham and Metropolis--he had run down them, often enough, to escape bullies.
Superman and Green Lantern took point, bursting in through Newsome's tinted glass windows. Erin's heart jumped, to see her Daddy and favorite Uncle come to her rescue. BJ unbound her, and she ran for an exit--only to find it had been bricked up. Finding a hiding place, she watched the ensuing battle, as her heroes battled the man she hated so.
"Winslow--don't you ever learn?"
BJ nodded beside him.
"Its all over, pal. We're not just gonna chain you to a rock--we're gonna put you under it!"
Newsome gently shook his head.
"No. No, I don't believe you will, Green Lantern."
Hitting a switch with his foot, The Toyman dropped a boulder on BJ, seemingly crushing him instantly. It was a boulder heavily laced, of course, with Kryptonite. In agony, Superman felt Newsome kick him in the head.
"That witch broke my hands, Superman. Without my hands as they were, I'm neither Weapons Master nor Toyman. I'm nothing. Which is what you'll soon be."
Beneath the boulder, barely protected by his power ring, BJ heard Erin screaming. Toyman taunted her again.
"Just wait, my little Bride. Honeymoon's over."
As Green Lantern finally began to move the huge weight off of him, he heard Hawkeye curse--and Newsome scream. When the stone was removed, and then destroyed, BJ thought he saw a burst of energy. His eyes were red and tearing, though, for concern over his daughter, so he ignored this, at first.
BJ thanked God that he saw a crying Erin being held tenderly by his best friend. But that thanksgiving turned to ashes in his throat, as he saw the blackened smudge on the wall--that was all that remained of The Toyman.
Seeing that his rants were making Erin cry still more, BJ waited until they all got back to HQ before pressing charges. Peg Hunnicutt would never forget the sight of a red-and-blue angel returning her little heart from a journey through hell itself.
Somehow never thinking that the trial would never go this far, Hawkeye shot off yet another quip as he took the stand.
"BJ--you ever think about writing fanfiction? Its all the rage on the Net. Now, speaking of rage, things went pretty much as Johnny Anger here just said. Except that, while he was getting out from under the boulder....."
"......Bride. The Honeymoon's over."
Superman saw Winslow pick up a power conduit, which he uncapped.
"Newsome, you slimemonger, let her go!"
"Fried Urchin---or fried turncoat, Kal-El?"
"I was still dazed from the Kryptonite. My best guess is, he turned the conduit on himself, probably while quoting Byron or somesuch. That was when BJ emerged."
BJ shook his head.
"Problem is, Superman--everyone saw that flash of energy--ala heat vision?"
Hawkeye looked up.
"Beej--I'm sorry about all the jokes. But please--for all our sakes--accept my version of events. Please--don't-don't make this any harder."
In the middle of the proceedings, The Spectre and his mortal passengers appeared. At the sight of his former JSA teammate, Sherm Garrick nearly jumped.
"Nick? How does this sorry soiree involve the Almighty's hatchet-man?"
Batman got up in The Spectre's face.
"Yeah, Pal! By whose authority do you disrupt my proceedings?"
"By whose authority do you think, Francis Marion Burns?"
As a wave of giggles went through the room, Batman shot a look at Wally O'Reilly, who stopped.
The Spectre continued.
"One more version must be heard, now. The Truth. Erin--step forward."
BJ held up his arms.
"No--way. She's been through enough."
The Spectre seated Erin.
"She has been through more than you know."
Erin began, and her tale was one twice-told--up to a point.
"...slimemonger, let her go!"
Erin was in agony, and her right hand was throbbing. She thought this was from the ropes, but it wasn't. Worse, this evil man had killed her Daddy, and was now going to kill Hawkeye--Superman. She suddenly knew what she had to do.
"In Brightest Day. Or Darkest Night, No Evil Shall Escape My Sight..."
Newsome looked over.
"What are you babbling about? Your turn will come soon enough...what's with your palm?"
Erin's right hand was glowing green, and she continued chanting.
"...Let Those Who Worship Evil's Might..."
"Shut up, you little...."
"BEWARE MY POWER....."
Newsome started towards her.
"I told you to shut..."
"GREEN LANTERN'S LIGHT!!!!!"
As Erin's power-beam struck Newsome, it unintentionally shoved the power-conduit into the pedophilic killer. He screamed, and then quickly was no more.
As she sobbed, Superman held the little girl, and bade him stare into his eyes.
"Forget. I want you to forget what just happened. It'll all be all right, honey."
Between Hawkeye's super-mesmerism and her father's screaming about murder, Erin found she could not relax, even though the bad man was dead.
"It wasn't Uncle Hawkeye, and he didn't kill himself. I killed The Toyman."
Hawkeye felt ashamed, not realizing how badly wrong his attempt to protect Erin had gone. Peg was upset, but grateful that he would try to do such a thing. BJ was not.
"You egotistical super-slimeball! You dare to implant false memories into my daughter's mind so she can take the fall for you? How low, Hawkeye? How low can even a murderer sink?"
The Martian Manhunter stood up.
"Hunni-cutt, before you proceed to make a bigger arse of yourself--now hear this. My telepathic scans reveal that Erin is telling the Truth. Our undead constable friend has undone Superman's well-intentioned hypnotic bungling. The truth, while harsh, is right before us."
BJ pointed at Win'ch'tr and The Spectre.
"You two--just want a semi-reliable champion of right set free. Hey, he's been a good cop--let him loose by fudging the evidence, right? Wrong. I'm getting the Gold K, right now."
Erin cried out.
"Daddy, I'm not lying!"
"Erin, honey--stay out of this."
"Why won't you listen to me?"
"Erin, I told you to shut up."
Erin pulled back her hand.
"NO, YOU SHUT UP!!!"
But the little girl fired the green beam from the strange tattoo on her palm, knocking her father back, hard. His ring protected him from the impact--but not from the truth, now irrefutable.
His daughter had killed The Toyman. In his zeal to prove otherwise, he had alienated Erin, Peg, his two best friends, and nearly all his teammates. The next words, from Martian Manhunter, proved even harsher.
"Since Earth's current Green Lantern has shown the same irrationality that plagued Trapper Hal, I must now move for an expulsion vote."
"Which I second."
Trapper had warned BJ about Burns. Having failed to bag Superman, he now had his sights on The Ring.
The Green Lantern felt like a man who was very much alone.