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A monstrous sandstorm forms in the Nevada desert. The KGB releases Mikhail and his family. Ron, Ed, and Felicity arrive in Las Vegas. Mikhail reveals a secret to his wife, Nina. Las Vegas mobster Charles Harsh seeks revenge against Ed Raymond for a newspaper expose article. A ghostly figure - the Sand Demon - appears in the sandstorm that moves into Las Vegas. Firestorm confronts the Sand Demon.

Firestorm826's Panel-by-Panel Story Summary (Spoiler Alert)

Nevada. Sixty miles northwest of Las Vegas, near Frenchman’s Flat. They tested nuclear weapons here. Two superhumans tested each other here. Both were forever changed. This creature - - this sand demon - - was left for dead out here in the desert. It did die. But it is not at peace.

It begins with a series of explosive convectional cells that form a squall line. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Cold air lifts the dust in front of the squall line to make a solid front 10,000 feet high. In its shadow, temperatures drop 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The creature steps forward and the storm follows in his wake, the winds blowing the sands 100 miles per hour. In two hours, it will be in Las Vegas.

Moscow. Inside KGB Headquarters. “I said what?!” exclaims Major Zastrow on the phone. “No, no. You misunderstood, Comrade. I said the American Ron Raymond has - - most certainly - - nothing to do with the Firestorm creature.” Zastrow gets angry, gritting his teeth in frustration. “No, it’s impossible, I tell you!” he continues. “At the exact same moment the creature was here in Moscow, we had the Raymond boy under observation!” Zastrow listens for a moment. “Certainly you may ask Conrade Stalnoivolk as well! We will let you know the minute he comes out of his coma!” he snarls. “May I suggest you stay off the vodka while on duty, Comrade?” He slams down the phone. “Cretin!” he thinks.

Zastrow turns and looks out the window over Red Square. “Bojemoi! My head feels like it’s going to explode! Eh? Those three entering the building - - there is something familiar about them…”

Serafina Arkadin and her parents approach the main entrance of KGB Headquarters. “I don’t understand. If the charges against Uncle Mikhail and his family are being dropped, why haven’t they just been released?” asks Serafina.

“There are politics involved,” explains her father.

“Your father means that the ass who arrested your Uncle is trying to find ways of salving his ego and covering his traces,” replies her mother.

“Sylvia - - dearest - - you know I dote on your insouciance. The KGB, however, may be less enchanted, hm?” her father says.

“Darling, I’m the daughter of an Ambassador. I know not only how to be tactful - - but when,” Sylvia replies.

“Let’s get Uncle Mikhail and his family and take them home,” Serafina suggests. Overhead, the scowling face of Major Zastrow stares down at them.

Shortly after, Special Prosecutor Soliony stands in his office with the Arkadin families. “Hmmm…We still have no satisfactory explanation for your whereabouts during the missing three weeks, Comrade!” Soliony explains.

“Nor have I,” Mikhail replies. “The blackouts are fully documented, Comrade Prosecutor. Or do you still believe I am connected with this Firestorm creature?”

“Don’t mock me!” Soliony growls. “You know we were together while the creature battled Stalnoivolk outside these very windows!”

“Or so you remember since I rearranged your memories…Comrade!” thinks Serafina as she listens.

“It is my understanding Premier Gorbachev is satisfied as to the nature of these attacks…The results of Mikhail’s heroic actions in service to the State!” Mikhail’s brother explains. “Surely that should answer your own suspicions.”

“Nothing about the Arkadins satisfies me!” Soliony says, angrily crumpling a folder in his hands. “It is well known your younger brother Dmitri is a black market profiteer..!”

“Yes, a terrible thing, the black market,” Dmitri says as he pulls out a cigarette. “Why, would you believe even some Special Prosecutors are engaged in it, Comrade Prosecutor?”

“Why, no!” Soliony blurts. He pulls out a lighter and offers it to Dmitri. Sweat starts to form on his bald forehead. “I mean, yes, I have heard of such miscreants..!”

“It is getting late. My brother and his family are very tired and would like to go home,” Dmitri says, lighting his cigarette with a match instead of Soliony’s lighter. “Would you be so good as to sign his release form?”

“Yes, of course…We are sorry for the misunderstanding…only doing our job…you understand..,” Soliony answers. He sits at his desk and begins signing papers.

“Oh, we do. We do.” Dmitri replies. Soliony hands him the release. Dmitri scans over it quickly. “Let’s go, Mikhail,” he tells his brother.

Soliony watches them leave. Sweat still runs down his temples. “You are a dangerous man to me, Mikhail Denisovitch Arkadin,” he thinks. “I must give some thought as to what to do with you.”

The Arkadin families walk together through the halls heading for the exit. “Brother, you amaze me!” Mikhail says, carrying Sofia on his shoulders. “Where did you learn that information about Soliony and the black market?”

“Do you know…I can’t remember!” Dmitri answers.

“There’s no doubt about it being true. Did you see how he reacted?” Sylvia asks.

“Your doing, Serafinushka?” Mikhail whispers.

“Perhaps. One learns a great many things while rearranging memories,” Serafina whispers back.

“You really should tell your parents about your power,” Mikhail whispers.

“Perhaps. You should really tell your wife about yours,” Serafina answers.

“Mikhail…What are you and Serafina whispering about?” Nina asks.

“Oh, my wonderful niece is simply letting me know once again how clever she is,” Mikhail explains.

The Arkadins continue to the exit. Several feet behind them, Major Zastrow and a KGB guard stand watching them. Major Zastrow frowns and takes a long drag off his cigarette. “Who is the teenager with Mikhail Arkadin?” Zastrow asks.

“His niece, I think, Comrade Zastrow. Why?” the guard answers.

“I don’t know…Something nagging at the back of my mind,” Zastrow replies. “Ah, well….If it’s important, it will come.”

Mikhail and his wife and daughters arrive at their apartment. Furniture lies knocked over and belongings are strewn about, the telltale sign of a KGB visit. “Ohhh, Mikhail..! Our lovely apartment!” Nina sobs as she turns to his arms. “How are we going to live? You no longer have your job and I doubt mine will still be waiting for me..! And what happened to you? I turned around and suddenly you are missing for weeks and…”

“Hush, my love. Hush, my dove,” Mikhail interjects. He pulls her close and they hug tightly. “We will clean up the apartment and when we are sure there are no little ears listening, I will tell you the truth of what has happened these past weeks.”

The home of Charles “Chaz” Harsh, just outside Vegas. Harsh stands at his windows gazing at two bikini-clad girls outside at his backyard pool. “Mr. Harsh?” a voice asks.

“Yes, Mitch?” Harsh asks, turning around.

“An Ed Raymond has booked some rooms at the Sand Dune on the Strip,” Mitch explains, joining Harsh by the window. “He was one of the reporters who...”

“Yes, yes. I know,” Harsh replies. “I know who he is. Is he doing a follow-up?”

“At this point, we don’t know, Mr. Harsh. He is asking questions, but they don’t seem connected to our affairs,” Mitch continues.

“Still, better safe than sorry. I presume there’s room for another body out where you put that two-bit hustler?” Harsh asks.

“The desert’s a big place, Mr. Harsh,” Mitch says with a smile.

“So I’m told, Mitch. So I’m told. Take care of it,” Harsh directs. He heads to the center of the room where several men congregate on and around couches and chairs.

“I hear you talking about that Raymond guy, Chaz?” a man asks Harsh. “Geez, he and them other reporters cost me a bundle with them articles they did.”

“We all lost, Frank,” Harsh says, sitting in a chair opposite him. “The exposè set back our timetable for acquisition of banks and other legitimate fields of revenue - - but not fatally. He’s being dealt with. For now, we have other matters to deal with. There are intrusions of the Yakuza and which Presidential candidate, if any, will be open to our support. Who needs the most money?”

In the distance, a dust storm looms behind the mountains near Las Vegas. At the Sand Dune Hotel, Ronnie, Ed, and Felicity Raymond arrive at their hotel room. Ronnie stands at the window. “I don’t even know what we’re doing here,” he sighs.

“Gambling, in a way,” Ed answers. He and Felicity sit on the couch. “Taking arms against your sea of troubles.”

“Ron, when you came back from being Firestorm the last time, you were so distraught..!” Felicity says.

“Shouldn’t I be? Mom, I nearly caused Firestorm to kill a man!” Ronnie replies.

“You’re being torn apart by the grief and rage you feel - - not only because you were unable to save your Grandfather, but because you were unable to save the life of Martin Stein,” Felicity continues. She gets up and walks to him, wrapping an arm around him and gently resting her hand against his chest.

“I can’t explain it, Mom! But me and Martin…” Ronnie tells her.

“You shared a relationship that, outside of Mikhail Arkadin, no one else on this planet could understand. You became one person,” Felicity explains. “Losing Professor Stein must have been like losing half of yourself. How can you possibly cope with a loss like that?”

“If, in fact, Martin Stein is dead,” Ed observes.

“Dad, let’s not start this again…Martin’s dead,” Ronnie tells him.

“How can you be sure? You and the Russian survived! If he’s dead, where’s the body?” Ed asks.

“C’mon, Dad, get serious!” Ronnie answers. “Martin was dead, or almost dead, when the nuke went off! The body would have been vaporized!”

“You said you got a spark of energy from him when you tried to form Firestorm,” Ed notes.

“It may have been just residual energy, like a muscle spasm!” Ronnie blurts. “Dad, I don’t feel Martin when we form Firestorm! I get no sense of him or his thoughts!”

“That overmind has to come from someplace,” Ed suggests. “You know, for someone who cared as much for Stein as you, you’re fighting this very hard.”

“Because I don’t dare hope!” Ronnie sobs. Tears stream down his face. “If I was to give in to hope - - and then found out he really was dead or, worse, never found out anything for sure - - I don’t think I could take it. I’d fall apart.”

“Ron - - you are losing it, and as Firestorm - - you have too much power, too much potential for destruction to let that happen,” Felicity tells him.

“Ron, this isn’t easy for me, either,” Ed explains. “I have to deal with the fact that Stein was closer to you than maybe I’ll ever be! All I’m suggesting we do is work from a positive basis for a change - - that Stein might be alive, and see what happens.”

“If he is alive, Dad, why hasn’t he tried to get in touch with me?” Ronnie asks.

“Maybe he can’t, for one reason or another,” Ed answers. “It’s worth a look, though, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yeah. What the heck. He’s worth at least a look,” Ronnie replies.

“Mikhail Denisovitch Arkadin, I think I should kill you!” Nina tells her husband. She stands in their living room. He sits on the couch near her. “And if you ever conceal something so important from me again, I will kill you!”

“If I ever do anything so stupid again, I will give you the knife,” Mikhail replies.

“And what of the future?” Nina asks. “There is a danger every time you become this creature!”

“There is something glorious, too,” Mikhail explains. “We have suffered because of what I have become - - but we have also benefited. And there is potential here for not only our country, but the world. We will take of the future as we come to it. But now, it is late and I would sleep with my wife again. For too long I have slept alone.”

Mikhail and Nina wrap into a passionate hug. “To bed?” he asks as he kisses her.

“To bed. Perhaps - - to sleep,” she answers.

A U.S. Weather Station just outside of Vegas. SHWOOOOOOOO! The winds of a massive dust storm howl fiercely. Inside the station, concerned meteorologists and technicians watch their monitoring systems. “This doesn’t make any sense. A sandstorm of this size should be heading north, not southeast,” a meteorologist observes.

“The city’s right in its path,” warns a colleague.

Nearby, another technician is on the phone. He hangs up and turns to the men at the monitor. “I got a guy who’s done a visual. Says there’s a man-sized figure walking in front of the storm,” he tells them. “Only problem is…he’s walking 30 feet up in the air with no visual means of support.”

“Hell. A paranormal,” the meteorologist says nervously with alarm. “Call the Mayor and the Governor! Evacuate the city if possible and see if the National Guard can be summoned! Call Nellis Air Force Base and see if they can scramble some support! Call the media and ask them to broadcast an emergency call for Superman, the Justice League International - - anybody! Tell them we’ve got an unidentified and potentially hostile paranormal and we need help fast!” He stares in wide-eyed disbelief at the image of a man in tattered clothing moving with the leading edge of the incredible storm.

In their hotel room, Ed, Felicity, and Ronnie watch a special report on their television. “This bizarre apparition - - whom some have already dubbed the Sand Demon - - is now approaching the outskirts of the city trailing a sandstorm whose winds reach an excess of 120 miles per hour!” the announcer explains. “Authorities fear the creature’s ultimate target may be the Hoover Dam. An urgent call has been sent out to any friendly paranormals to come to the aid of the city.”

Ronnie stands. “Excuse me, but I think I hear them calling my name,” he says.

“Ron, are you sure you’re in the mental shape to do this?” Felicity asks.

“No,” Ronnie answers. “But lives are in the balance and we’re the nearest friendly super-hero. If Mikhail’s willing, we’ve got to try.” Ronnie closes his eyes and concentrates. “Mikhail..,” he thinks. “Mikhail!”

Asleep in his bed in Moscow, Mikhail Arkadin awakens. “Ron?” he thinks. “Emergency…Need Firestorm…Lives at stake…Willing? Yes! Go!” An atomic ring dances in his eye and he vanishes!

FOOOSH! Instantly, a fireball streaks above Moscow, quickly speeding west over the Pacific Ocean. FZAAM! Firestorm appears in the hotel room in a flash of light!

“Mr. Raymond, would you ask your son for me if this is the only existence I am to be allowed - - long sleeps broken only for desperate battles?” Firestorm asks.

“Uh - - sure!” Ed agrees.

“Most appreciative,” Firestorm replies. FZAAM! He lowers his density and phases through the room’s wall.

“Cripes! It’d be a wonder if Ron wasn’t being driven crazy by being a part of that!” Ed exclaims, pulling Felicity close as Firestorm disappears.

Seconds later, Firestorm speeds over Las Vegas heading towards the massive sand storm. “Nice shot, Flame-Brain!” Ronnie says. “You can ask me that question yourself, you know! No need to bring my Dad into it!”

“I want an answer to it,” Firestorm replies. “The question is valid. I need more to my life than endless battle. I have needs as great as yours or Mikhail’s, and my right to existence is no less!”

WOOOOOOOOO! The sand storm continues to move over the landscape with fury. The Sand Demon apparition hovers over the posh estate of Charles Harsh. “What the hell is going on with this weather? And where the hell is Chaz?” asks Frank anxiously.

Have you ever seen what sandblasting does to a wall? SHWUUUUU! SHWUUUUU! The walls and roof of Harsh’s home weaken under the assault. WHA-DOOM! Suddenly, the roof collapses! SHWEEEEEE! The sands and winds rip inside. Now imagine the effect of sandblasting on human flesh. “YAAAAAAAAA!” screams a girl as her skin is torn from her body.

Firestorm flies near. “Flametop! He’s killing those people!” Ronnie says. “Listen, can you transmute something to deflect that stream of sand back at him?”

“Yes,” Firestorm answers. FZAAM! A large boulder of sand coalesces and shoots back at the Sand Demon! SHWUUUU! WHAM! It smashes into the strange apparition!

“Firestorm! If we can hit the creature with a lava geyser, the heat may fuse sand to glass!” Mikhail suggests.

“We’ll try it,” Firestorm replies. He lands quickly and smashes his left hand into the ground. SHWOMP! A geyser of lava erupts under the Sand Demon!

WOOOOOOO! The winds shriek as the lava and sand mix. WHOMP! The sand and lava quickly form together and encase the Sand Demon in a large cluster of jagged glass! It begins to fall to the earth.

“Now transmute that sucker into something stronger, like solid steel!” Ronnie directs.

“No! It may kill this being!” Mikhail counters quickly. “We want only to stop it!”

“We need a decision, gentlemen,” Firestorm tells them. “Because in another second, it will be…too late.”

SMASHH! The glass container smashes into the ground and breaks apart! From inside, the Sand Demon stands and glares at Firestorm.

“Ohmigod!” Ronnie gasps. “It’s Martin!”

Firestorm walks near the bizarre form of Martin Stein. SWOOSH! Sands begin to swirl around them quickly. WHOMP! Firestorm is lifted up into the air. “YAAARG!” he cries out as sand smashes into his face. He raises his right hand and forms a fireball in his palm.

“No! We can’t hurt the Professor!” Ronnie cries out.

“Do we then let him kill us - - or others?!” Firestorm asks. He whips the fireball down at Stein. WOOOOSH! SHWOMP! The fireball crashes into the ground beneath Stein!

“Stop it! Leave him alone! It’s the Professor!” Ronnie yells.

“It’s not the same being you knew!” Mikhail tells him.

“Can’t…focus!” Firestorm stammers. WHUMP Sand forms around him and begins to pull him out of the air. SHWUUUU! The winds howl as he falls to the ground, quickly enveloped in swirling sand. “Cannot act…cannot breathe!” Firestorm gasps.

“Martinnnnn...,” Ronnie calls out.

“Ron! Stop it! Or we will die here!” Mikhail warns desperately. WUUUUUUU! The winds howl as the red glowing eyes of Martin Stein stare at Firestorm.

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