J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter
John Smith, the Red Tornado
and Zatanna Zatara as herself.
In a burst of purple magic, Zatanna arrived. She carried with her a composite lockbox, complete with combination, key, handprint, and voiceprint requirements. J’onn imagined the box also held magical protections as well. With the police search over, he and Red Tornado remained behind in the scrapyard out of sight to ensure the Coen Bag made it into the right hands.
“Well, I’m happy to have this ugly chapter of my life out of the way,” she said. “You two have no idea how much trouble some of these ancient toys can cause.”
Zatanna dropped the box in the dirt. After clearing the security, she declared Nepo and flipped up the lid. Red Tornado deposited the bag inside and the magician re-secured the container.
“Where will you take the bag?” J’onn asked.
“I’m handing it over to Doctor Fate. He’ll secure it in his tower, or a pocket dimension, or maybe around Saturn somewhere. The fewer people who know, the better. Drinks are on me next time you two do monitor duty.”
“Thank you, but there is one other matter you could clear up for me.”
“Oh?” Zatanna replied.
“The Coen Bag is supposed to encourage one possessor to kill another. Detective Powers told me that in her tradition, the greedy do combat using bags filled with wealth as punishment in the afterlife. But one of our victims wasn’t killed in such a manner. He was killed in an animal attack.”
“Ah, the Inferno.” Zatanna smiled. “If you want to know about that little volume, you should talk to Jason Blood. He actually knew Alighieri, and Etrigan can confirm anything about the geography of hell.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d prefer an explanation that is a little less first-hand,” J’onn replied.
“Are you familiar with the term Usury?”
J’onn wasn’t, but Red Tornado answered instead. “An antiquated term for interest on a loan.”
“Correct. Interest is a pretty normal banking practice today, but there was a time when it was considered a serious sin. Usury isn’t interpreted as greed. It’s considered a form of violence against nature and mankind. It falls into a much deeper circle of hell. And that circle is where our fourteenth century mystic drew power to create the Coen Bag to get his revenge. In the circle of Violence, Usurers are pursued through eternity by hounds just as they hounded others in life for their bread-money.”
“Disturbing,” J’onn observed.
“Well, now that this little ordeal is over you can go back to jailing people for committing completely mundane crimes. Until the next crisis, gentlemen. Raeppasid!”
And with that, Zatanna vanished with her security box just as easily as she arrived. The Martian and the android found themselves alone in the scrap-yard, surrounded by automobiles that were no longer safe to operate.
“Will Detective Powers keep your identity a secret?” Smith asked.
“She will. She knows that revealing it would only alienate me even more. In that way, she is not unlike your Kathy Sutton. She takes such solace in knowing you are an android.”
Red nodded. “I’m fortunate to have her company. J’onn J’onzz, I have noted of an increase in our overall effectiveness when you and I are paired as opposed to our pairings with any other League members.”
“As have I,” J’onn replied. “Perhaps that is something worth exploring again sometime.”
“Agreed. I look forward to such an opportunity.”
Feeling no need to elaborate on their farewells, two individuals who take the identity of John part ways.
I hope you enjoyed that. For the curious, the Coen Bag is named for the Coen Brothers, who have written and directed a number of movies about people who behave very differently upon finding a bag full of money.