Firestorm rescues a group of teenagers from an abandoned parachute ride at Coney Island. Firehawk flies to New York, where she and Firestorm are attacked by aerial drones. Ronnie and Lorraine visit the home of Blythe Bonner. Firestorm and Firehawk talk with Belle Haney (Blythe and Bug Bonner's mother) at Manhattan General Hospital. Belle recounts the tragic incident that affected both her children. Firestorm and Firehawk battle Byte at the hospital.
Firestorm826's Panel-by-Panel Story Summary
Coney Island. The famed Brooklyn amusement park and resort area alongside the Atlantic Ocean. “Ronald, this is completely inappropriate,” Professor Martin Stein lectures, “I’ don’t care if you say you do concentrate better in loud, noisy places - - a woman’s life is at risk - - and you shouldn’t be spending your time riding a roller coaster at Coney Island!” Clank-clank-clank-clank! The Cyclone’s coaster train clicks its way to the top of the tall first hill. Zoooooom! It makes the turn and starts to plunge! The riders scream and yell. At the back of the train, poised on the edge of the last car sits Firestorm. “Nag, nag, nag,” Ronnie answers, wind whipping his flaming hair, “Quiet, Professor. I’m thinking.” Stein finds Ronnie’s choice of mental peace to be unseemly.
“Habit, Professor,” Ronnie explains as the coaster climbs the next hill, “I do my homework with the TV on and my radio blasting. And anybody who’s ever been to a high school study hall knows how ‘quiet’ that is…So I guess I can’t think properly unless there’s a major racket going on around me. Low bridge.” FZAM! Ronnie instantly turns his atomic density to zero and phases through the bridge facing.
“Let’s see, where were we?” he continues, “Oh, right - - someone has it in for your old girlfriend, Belle Haney. In fact, someone tried to kill her last night at the Coliseum Science Fair in Manhattan - - and probably would have, if I hadn’t thrown my battered bod into the breach. That someone calls herself Byte, and she seems to be half-human, half-electric.”
Near the roller coaster, a group of teenage kids are climbing high onto the platform of an old, abandoned parachute jump ride. One slips and calls out in distress! “Thing is, I may have recognized Byte while we were fighting…” Ronnie pauses, “Say, did you hear someone call ‘help?’”
“HELP!” a panicked voice yells from the parachute jump platform. CRUNCH! The platform the kids are standing on is loose and giving way! One boy clings to a rail as his friends try to hold him from plummeting! Signs marking “Danger” and “Keep Off” are on the platform. “I knew we shouldn’t’a climbed up here, Bruce!” one cries out, struggling to help his friend, “All the signs said - - Moma!” Ronnie sees the kids in danger. He turns to face the back of the coaster car. He starts to say, “Looks like they’re in troub…” and CLANG! A bridge facing slams into the back of his unfortunately no-longer zero density head! “Unk…” he mumbles as he falls, “Low bridge. Oops.” Falling backwards and tumbling in the air, he refocuses. “Firestorm doesn’t move - - Firestorm gonna go splat!” he says, regaining control and flying back up towards the platform.
CREEEAAAAKKK! SPLAK! “Oh, no! The platform - - it’s breaking away!” a teen cries out as two of his friends fall! “Atomic restructuring powers, don’t fail me now,” Ronnie says, looking at the ground, “That tent down there - - should make a nifty pillow!” FAZAM! A giant, pink upholstered pillow appears where the tent had just been. PLOOF! The two falling teens come to a soft stop on the pillow! “And that parachute would probably feel a whole lot better if it lost its ‘para’ and stuck to chute. Watch, Professor, you’re going to love this,” Ronnie calls out. FZAM! In an eye blink, the crumbling platform transforms into a long slide, carrying the remaining teens through atomic rings and safely back to the ground.
“Bravo, Stormy, encore!” calls out Firehawk, “Encore! Here I come all the way from Washington, wondering how I’d find you - - and you light up the sky over half of New York with Coney Island-style fireworks! Some might call it showy. Not me, I’m impressed. Can we talk?” She smiles at him and he leaps skyward to meet her. “Lorraine - - uh - - I mean, Firehawk! Boy, have I missed you! ‘Scuse me kids. Don’t get into any more trouble, all right? I’m going to be busy,” Ronnie says with a grin. Down below, the teens look in wonder at the two nuclear friends. “S-sure,” one answers, struck by Firehawk’s gorgeous appearance, “Wow…Lookit her!”
Firestorm flies up and wraps his arm around Firehawk and they fly along together. “You missed me. I missed you. Why do you think I’m here?” Firehawk asks, adding, “Dad’s Senate Ethic Hearings are in recess for a week. He doesn’t need me as badly. He’s not as - - broken up about it as he was.” Ronnie nods, replying, “The Senator’s tougher than you think, Lorraine. I like him - - but it’s you I want to…” Stein’s voice interrupts with an urgent warning!
“Ronald! Attacking aircraft! Launching missiles behind us!” Stein yells. “Oh rats,” Firehawk says, “Not again.” BZOOM! BZOOM! Two jet planes make a high-speed pass at them, guns blazing. They dodge out of the way! “Again? You’ve been attacked by fighter jets before?” Ronnie asks, surprised, “Is there something you haven’t told me about life in the Capital, Lorraine?”
WOOSH – WOOSH! The jets fire two air-to-air missiles! Firehawk aims a fiery burst at one, detonating it’s warhead in a bright orange explosion! “This is the second time I’ve been shot at in the sky,” she answers, “That’s part of the reason I came looking for your help. One missile down, another headed your way. And they’re not jet fighters, they’re pilotless robot drones!” FZAM! An atomic restructuring burst turns the other missile into…flowers? “Oh, that makes me feel much better,” Ronnie says, “So you burn ‘em, and I zap their missiles into daisies - - but who or what are we fighting?”
The two dogfight with the drones in the sky over New York. “Well, if I knew that, I’d tell you,” Firehawk says as she pulls into a high-speed climb, “Whoever’s behind this, though, doesn’t want to kill us.” Ronnie dives below a drone, floating along just to its right. “Really?” he wonders, “Could’ve fooled me!” The drone fires! With a quick restructuring burst, he neutralizes the projectiles. “Bullets zapped into plastic turkeys. Cute bit,” Firehawk says, amused, “You screw up that drone’s intake valve, and I’ll lead the other on a collision course…”
BWOOM! The drones collide and disintegrate in a fiery rain of debris! “And that will take care of that,” Firehawk observes.
Simultaneously, in a darkened chamber many miles away, a group sits watching the aerial battle on a giant display screen. “I told you they were good, even better together than each alone,” a shadowy female figure says. “Yes, quite so - - but can they be used?” another voice asks from a nearby chair, “Robot drones cost money, after all…” The shadowy female orders the video off. “I promised the 2000 Committee a return on their investment,” she continues, “and I intend to keep that promise. Firehawk’s powers are ours by right, since one of our agents created them. We will claim our property. Firestorm is simply a bonus. If necessary, expendable!”
Meanwhile, Firestorm and Firehawk continue their flight. Smoke rises from the crashed drones behind them. “Won-der-ful,” Ronnie tells her, “You’ve got a mystery and I’ve got a mystery. Maybe we should fool our problems, and help each other…” Firehawk agrees. “Sounds like something I used to do with my roommates in college - - pooling class notes and cramming for tests. Got me kicked out of three schools, among other reasons,” she says, “Anyway, okay. Whose problem do we tackle first?” Ronnie remembers the cryptic message from Byte, and tells her, “Uh, mine? It’s got a midnight deadline.” Firehawk asks, “If it’s so urgent, why are we hanging around here? Never mind…just tell me on the way.”
A flash of light, a cloud of nuclear dust, a hearty “Hiho, neutron, away!” Aw, the heck with it. Eight minutes later, after a hasty nuclear transformation, in uptown Manhattan on the residential West Side, Lorraine and Ronnie stand along a neighborhood street. Lorraine reaches to touch Ronnie’s arm. “Y’know, Ronnie, this is the first time I’ve seen you when you weren’t Firestorm,” she tells him, “You’re younger than I expected.” Ronnie mentions that Professor Stein is Firestorm’s older half. “If you’d rather be with him…” he starts to suggest. “Noooo, he can stay where he is, back at his lab,” Lorraine replies quickly, asking, “Whose house is this?”
Ronnie explains that the house is a classmate’s, Blythe Bonner. “And I’m positive she’s also Byte, the half-human, half-electric creature that tried to kill Stein’s friend, Belle Haney,” he details, “If you ask me how that’s possible, I’m bust for ideas. All I know is, she and I tore the Computer Fair apart yesterday. Then she vanished into a wall electrical socket…but not before she left a death threat for Belle Haney on the Fair’s computer screens.” The two step up onto the porch of the Bonner home. “So you’re just going to walk up and ring the doorbell?” Lorraine asks. Ronnie pushes the button, answering, “What else? She doesn’t know Ronnie’s me. I mean - - that I’m him - - or is it…” Lorraine replies that she gets the idea, saying “Shush, darlin’ - - someone’s coming. Look.”
The front door slowly swings open and a face cautiously peers out. “Wh-Wh-Who is it?” Barney Bonner asks meekly. He then recognizes his friend, adding, “Oh, Ronnie. It’s you. I thought…one of the neighborhood kids was playing ring-the-bell-and-run again. Why would they do that, you think?”
“Uh - - beats me, Barney. Can we come in?” Ronnie asks, introducing his friend, “Lorraine, this is Barney Bonner, Blythe’s sister. Barney, Lorraine Reilly.” Barney waves them in, saying, “Might as well. Nobody here but me…and Dad.” Lorraine asks where his sister is. “Around,” Barney answers, “Hey, Ronnie, you still interested in computers? I’ve got a neat one in my room…”
They walk into the living room. Mr. Bonner lies sprawled out on the couch, unaware that they are there. “Ronnie, look - - who’s that?” Lorraine whispers. “Mr. Bonner? My drama coach?” Ronnie whispers back. Barney shakes off the sight. “Don’t worry about Dad, Ronnie. It’s just his weekend binge,” he says sadly. Mr. Bonner clings to a photograph tucked under his cheek on the couch. Ronnie looks at the face in the photo. “Lorraine, the woman in that picture - - that’s Belle Haney,” he whispers in surprise. Lorraine clings close to him. “Ronnie…this gives me the creeps…” she whispers apprehensively.
The three walk into Barney’s bedroom. Ronnie looks around at the collection of high-tech gadgets and gizmos. “Barney…this is your room? It looks like something out of NASA Mission Control,” he asks, “How did you get all this stuff?” Barney explains that his Mom works for Concordance Research. Instead of Christmas presents, she sends him computer kits. “You sound bitter,” Lorraine observes. “No, you don’t understand…I love computers. They always pay attention to you. They do what you want. You can always depend on them,” he says, frustratedly clenching his fists, “Not like people. Not like…”
“Barney - - shut up,” Blythe says angrily as she enters the room. “Sis? I didn’t hear you come in. Did I say something wrong?” he answers defensively. “Sometimes you can be so stupid,” she says, shaking a fist at him. “Blythe, we were only talking,” Ronnie tries to explain. “Now you’ve got a story for the class, don’t you? About Mr. Bonner, the drunk. I hope you’re happy, Ronnie,” she says, pointing them to the front door, “Get out. And don’t ever come back.”
Ronnie and Lorraine walk out the front door and down the sidewalk. “Well, that was sure unpleasant. What exactly did we accomplish there, besides us both getting bummed out?” Lorraine asks. Ronnie wraps his arm around her shoulder as they walk along. “That picture of Belle Haney, Lorraine, and Barney saying his mother works for Concordance. It fits, don’t you see? We’ve got to talk with the Professor about…” Ronnie says, turning a corner and bumping right into…Doreen, Cliff, and Jefferson. “Hi guys…This is Lorraine,” he says softly.
Doreen Day says nothing, but a slight teardrop forms in her eye. And Ronnie’s other friends are too embarrassed to speak (though Cliff smirks triumphantly). But the thing is, Doreen doesn’t need to say a word. Not a word.
Concordance Research, in Martin Stein’s newly refurbished lab, the physicist works on an experiment with beaker and test tube in hand. “Let’s see. One part ground bean to two parts milk and ten parts hot water…should make a pretty good cup of coffee,” he thinks as he brews. Suddenly, atomic rings swirl around his head. “Oh no,” he worries, recognizing what is about to happen, “At least give me a chance to put the beaker…” FZAM! Martin Stein disappears! KTASH! The beaker falls and shatters on the lab floor!
Manhattan General Hospital, not many minutes after the nuclear transformation of the previous scene. Firestorm and Firehawk arrive and check in at the nurse’s station on a treatment floor. “Nobody warned us about things like this in nursing school,” a young nurse thinks as she looks at the two unusual fiery visitors. “Infrared computer-enhanced imaging systems, eh?” another nurse says to Firestorm, “You’re talking about the new computer diagnostic center Concordance Research sent over to field test. Down the corridor, second door on the right.” Firestorm asks if that is where Professor Haney is. “She was when I looked last. That lady works longer hours than I do,” the nurse replies.
“Ronald…What you’ve told me about the Bonner family, since we rejoined, is tragic…but you may have made a mistake,” Stein cautions as they walk down the corridor, “The woman in Bonner’s picture may only look like Belle.” Firestorm and Firehawk arrive at the new diagnostic room. “Uh-huh. So we’ll see,” Ronnie replies. The door opens to reveal a large room filled with computer consoles, monitors, and wall-to-wall electrical panels. Belle Haney stands in the center of the room, busily punching the keys on a console. “Hi, Mrs. Bonner,” Ronnie says, “Talked to your kids lately?” Belle Haney turns, her face draining of color. “Firestorm? What did you say - - about my children?” she asks. “Jackpot,” Ronnie answers, his theory now proven.
Firehawk steps near Belle. “Darling, sometimes you’re about as sensitive as a tree stump,” she tells Ronnie. “Mrs. Bonner - - Professor Haney - - My name’s Firehawk, I’m a friend. We think your boy and girl may be mixed up in something awful…but we’re not sure,” she tells Belle, “If you could tell us about them…about you.” Belle looks sad, biting her lip and blinking away tears in her eyes. “What’s to tell? They’re my babies, I love them, and I haven’t seen them in almost ten years. Ten years, can you imagine that,” Belle sobs, “Oh, God.”
Belle tells them about her family life as it once was. “Ten years ago, I still believed in the myth of the Super-Mom…juggling a full-time career with full-time motherhood. My husband was no help. He said he was supportive, but he never found time to share the work,” she continues. In her memory, she sees herself busy in her home’s garage workshop. Her two young children, Barney and Blythe, play behind her. “Hey Mom, what’s this over here?” Barney asks as he and Blythe grab onto a thick cable. “Whatever it is, put it down, Barney,” Belle answers, without looking back from her project. “I told ya she’d get mad,” Blythe tells her brother, kneeling to look at the cable.
“What happened next wasn’t Frank’s fault, though; it was mine. I should never have used our garage as a computer workshop, with high-voltage cables everywhere,” Belle recalls, “I should have been more careful. I should have loved them more.” Barney and Blythe lift a large cable and touch it to a console. Barney holds the loose end of the cable, its internal wiring exposed. “Mom, wanta see something neat?” he asks. “We can make sparks too,” Blythe says as she and her brother watch the cable. Belle quickly reacts to a certain word Barney just said. “Sparks? Oh, dear God,” she cries out to her children, “put that downnnnnnnn….” She races to her children and just reaches them when…
ZZZAAKKK! A massive flash of electric blue arcing light fills the garage as powerful current flows through them! Belle placed herself next to her children to try and shield them from the massive short circuit. “Every piece of equipment in the workshop shorted out - - but there was no fire,” Belle remembers, “And my babies weren’t hurt. I kept telling myself, all that high voltage, pouring through their bodies - - it’s a miracle, dear God, it’s a miracle they weren’t hurt!” Her voice trails off. “Frank didn’t see it quite that way,” she says softly.
Hearing the explosive short-circuit, Frank Bonner ran to the garage to investigate, fearing something terrible has occurred. “Barney, Blythe…Belle, for the love of heaven, what happened?” he asks in shock. His wife and children are on the floor, clothes tattered, smoke and sparks still dancing around the workshop. “I-It’s all right, Frank. An accident, they’re just scared…” Belle starts to explain. Barney covers his face with his hands. “Daddy, my eyes hurt…” he whimpers. Frank is furious. “An accident? Just scared?” he yells at Belle, “You stupid, stupid - - you could have killed them! Get out of here! Get out!” He runs to his children. “I don’t want you near them again, ever. I could stand it when you put our marriage on a back burner for your lousy career,” he says angrily, kneeling over Blythe and Barney, “but I’ll be damned if I’ll let you kill my kids.” Belle gets to her feet and tearfully runs out of the garage.
In the hospital room, Belle holds a hand to her face, crying with the painful emotion of the memories. “I didn’t fight the divorce. I didn’t fight for custody…” she explains, “Because he was right. Frank was right.” Firestorm disagrees. “Bunk, Frank was wrong,” he tells Belle, “I think he knows it, too…Or he wouldn’t be drinking himself to death, with your picture in his arms.” Belle wonders…her picture? Firehawk offers that Belle and her ex-husband have a lot of problems to work out, but that most of those problems can wait. “The problems with Blythe and Barney can’t wait,” she tells Belle. “I don’t understand,” Belle says, head down in sadness.
Suddenly, two giant electrified hands burst out of the consoles, seeming to reach right out of the walls around Belle, Firestorm, and Firehawk! “Then we’ll explain it to you, Mommy dear. Right before we kill you,” a voice shouts out. Ronnie moves to protect Belle, saying, “Whoa, watch out for those hands! That’s Barney’s voice! But where’s it coming from?” Belle whirls to face where the voice seems to be. “Barney…My Barney?” she asks, looking around. “Look on the monitor display screen behind you, Mommy!” Barney’s voice orders.
The screen flickers to life. Barney is visible seated in a command console chair. He wears a strange green and purple outfit, connected to the chair by cables. He holds two control joysticks in his hands. A helmet with large green eye sections that look like an insect’s compound eye covers his head and face. “Want to see something neat?” he asks, “That explosion in your lab didn’t hurt Blythe or me - - but it was only a few months ago that we finally figured out what it did do. Blythe can change into pure electricity - - she calls herself Byte. I can become part of any computer that I can reach through a phone line - - I call myself Bug! Aren’t you proud of us, Mommy?”
Belle looks in shock and horror at the screen. “Oh no, oh no, oh no…” she sobs, overcome with emotion. Firehawk grabs Belle, cradles her in her arms, and takes flight. “Belle’s hysterical. Who could blame her?” Firehawk asks. One of the electrical hands tries to smack Belle and Firehawk. SPZAK! “Ha! Missed us, Butter-sparks,” Firehawk calls out as the hand pounds into the floor next to her. Firestorm launches a nuclear burst at the other electrical hand. FZAM! “But why are they doing this? Trying to kill their own mother?” he asks.
“Don’t you listen? We heard her tell you that sob story,” Blythe’s voice booms out from one of the hands, “We hear everything she says. Bug has her wired.” In a swirl of blue electrical energy, Byte appears! “You heard it, too, and you still don’t know why we hate her?” she hisses as she takes physical form. SPZZZAK! A quick left punch from Byte knocks Firestorm back through the air! “She ran out on us, on all of us - - but especially she ran out on Daddy!” Byte fumes, “He’s a drunk, and it’s all her fault! Everything is her fault! It took me a long time to make Barney understand. But when he saw her at the Computer Fair with her old boyfriend, that Professor Stein, even Barney could she she’d left us forever!”
Ronnie calls out to her, “Stein, are you nu…” CRASH! He lands hard against a console. Firehawk launches a heat burst at Byte, telling her, “You crazy little creep, if you’ve hurt my man, I’ll burn your…” SSSHHH! “Huh? My nuclear heat blast passed right through you!” Firehawk exclaims. Byte runs towards Firestorm as the heat blast slams into a console wall. “Sure,” Byte tells her, “You can’t burn electricity, stupid. It burns you.” Byte turns and aims her hands at Firehawk. ZZZZAAKKKK! A powerful electrical burst flows from Byte’s hands, smashing around and into Firehawk, stunning her and knocking her to the floor!
Byte runs to her mother who is kneeling on the floor nearby. She stands over Belle for a moment. “Blythe, don’t do this…those people were only trying to help us,” Belle says. Byte bends her face close to Belle and a strange blue beam of light emanates from her eyes. ZZAAKK! The light beam envelops Belle! “Help you, Momma. Bug and I don’t need anyone’s help,” she explains, “We’ve got you now.” Bug watches from the monitor display. “Take her into the system, Byte! We’ll make sure she’ll never leave us again. Ever!” he yells. ZZZZAAAAAKKKKK! Byte and Belle shimmer in bright ball of electrical light. The ball of light moves quickly across the room, floating with powerful energy and leaving a blue-white trail behind it. It reaches the display screen and suddenly…they vanish!
Firehawk gets up off the floor and Firestorm gets back to his feet after landing on the console. “Stormy, you okay?” Firehawk asks, looking at Bug’s image on the screen, “H-He’s still there…but I don’t think he sees us. He’s watching Belle and Byte - - wherever they are. My flames threw off most of that shock, but I’m a little shaky. Did we see what I think I saw? How could Byte turn Belle into a stream of electricity - - and pull her into that computer?” Ronnie recalls that Belle was hit by the same voltage as her kids during the accident in the garage many years ago. “Maybe it did things to her, things she doesn’t even know about,” he speculates. “We‘ve got to go get her,” Firehawk realizes. “Say what?” Ronnie asks.
“Do what she says, boy,” Professor Stein directs, “Alter your atomic structure, and Firehawk’s, with your nuclear powers.” Ronnie is not enthused with the idea. “And then what? Play tag inside a machine?” he argues. “Please,” Stein asks. Ronnie moves close to Firehawk, nuclear light starting to form in his hands. “I’m going to hate this,” he grumps. “Are you afraid?” Firehawk asks. Ronnie reaches for the console where Byte and Blythe disappeared. “Uh-huh. A few months ago, a guy called Tokamak shrank me down to atomic size,” Ronnie explains, “Ever since, I’ve been freaked by small places. Claustrophobia. Sue me. I hate this a lot.” Firestorm and Firehawk are swept up in nuclear energy. On a trail of white-hot pinkish light, they enter the display screen!
Sight and sound are distorted here, as if time and space were out of synch. It’s all Firestorm can do to keep his lunch down. Firehawk and Firestorm float in the strange blackness, circles of light forming rings that seem to lead like a path to the middle of the space. “Stop looking nauseous, Stormy, and open your eyes!” Firehawk tells him, “Up ahead, at the center of this system…” Ronnie looks and sees Bug floating on a pillar of energy. He launches a nuclear burst at him! “That’s Bug, all right,” he tells Firehawk, “Hey! My blasts can’t reach him! He’s protected by an electrical field!” Firehawk soars next to him and fires heat bursts! “My turn,” she calls out, “If we get past him, maybe we can find Byte - - and Belle.”
Bug stands defiantly before them. Firehawk’s flame bursts bounce right off him, ricocheting back into Firestorm and Firehawk! “Oh, don’t be so dumb,” Bug tells them dismissively. “Yoowwww!” Ronnie cries out, hurting from the impact. ZZZZAAKK! An electrical burst sweeps across Firestorm and Firehawk. “Oooof!” Firehawk grimaces, “Did I do that?” The two fly backwards in the space from the blow. “In a way, she did, Ronald!” Stein advises, “We’re in an electrical stream that Bug controls - - he can repel your attacks with ease! Perhaps, neither of you, separately, has enough power to shatter his force field…but together?” Ronnie takes the idea and reaches for Firehawk’s hand. “Grab my mitt, Firehawk, and concentrate!” The two come to a stop, floating together, unleashing a massive and combined burst of nuclear energy at Bug! “Hmm, even if this doesn’t work,” Firehawk says, “it sure is fun!”
But, it does work - - spectacularly! The nuclear tidal wave roils over Bug, stunning him. “Too much power, too much!” he cries out, struggling to keep his balance, “Can’t hold it, Sis! I’ve gotta get out!” Nearby, Byte watches as she stands guard over Belle. “Blast you, Barney,” she yells, “Don’t leave me! Barney - - please - - you’re all I’ve got left! Barney!” But Barney Bonner, arriving in his computer-cluttered room miles from Manhattan General Hospital, is too stunned to respond. Inside the system, his sister Byte promptly goes - - berserk!
Byte stands on a long stream of data bits that crackle with energy, flowing from a large reddish spherical electron bubble where Belle stands. “Blythe, darling, listen to me,” Belle pleads. “You’ve said enough, Momma,” Byte replies, “I won’t listen to anymore lies. I’m going to kill them!” Byte directs the dangerous data stream right at Firestorm. Ronnie raises both hands and aims a nuclear burst at the leading edge of the stream! “Not like that you won’t” he calls to Byte. “Good, Ronald - - form a shield to reflect those data bits - - right back at Byte’s electron bubble!” Stein directs. ZZZAKKKK! The data stream bounces off Firestorm’s shield, reflecting back to smash into and shatter the bubble! Byte speeds away from it as it collapses! Firehawk swoops in a grabs Belle, calling out, “I’ve got Belle, Stormy. Now, how do we get outta here?” Ronnie turns to pursue Byte. “Being hit by those data bits must’ve been pretty bad,” he observes, “Byte looks hurt. We followed Byte in, we’ll follow her out.”
Bug watches from his bedroom’s command chair as Byte flees from Firestorm. “B-Blythe, come on - - he’s right behind you! Hurry, get out - - before you lead him here!” he tells her. Suddenly, a radiant flash of bright energy bursts in front of Bug, forcing him to turn away to shield his eyes! “Oh, shut up. Your whining makes me sick,” Byte tells him as she reforms in the room, “I got out as fast as I could, damn it. My whole body feels like its burning. Her fault, like every other bad thing that’s ever happened to us.” Bug watches his sister, saying, “Blythe…She seemed so frightened, didn’t she? I’ve been thinking…” Byte cuts him off, ordering, “Don’t think! Just shut down the system before they can get out.”
Bug punches a keypad. “Shut down the system while they are still inside? That’ll kill them.” Byte and Bug look at the display, showing Firestorm quickly coming towards them as Firehawk trails close behind carrying Belle. “Brilliant, Barney. That’s the idea, remember? We want to punish her, to kill her for her crimes,” Byte tells Barney icily, “Shut the system down, Barney. Do it now.” Bug pauses, thinking. “She’s our mother…and she isn’t as bad as you and Daddy said she was, Blythe,” he tells her, “I-I’m not sure anymore…” Byte reaches for the keypad, pushing Bug out of the way. “I am. I’ll shut them off,” she tells him. Bug yells out, “N-No!”
In all his fifteen years, Barney Bonner has never acted decisively until this moment, and no one can ever know how much it costs him. He leaps from his chair and attacks Byte! “Ever since Momma left, you’ve pushed me - - forced me to do what you want. ‘Big Sister knows best, do what Big Sister says.’ I won’t! This one time, I won’t!” he cries out as he struggles with her. Blythe Bonner has lived with hate and anger inside her so long, she no longer cares whom she attacks. She wants to hurt someone. Punish someone. Brother Barney is a handy target. “Aaaahhhh!” Barney yells as a brutal electrical shock courses from Byte into him. FZAM! Firestorm phases through the computer display into the room! “Blythe! That’s your brother! Are you crazy?” Ronnie yells to her. “Maybe I am,” she replies, unmoved by what she has done.
Frank Bonner was asleep in the living room when noises in his son’s room stirred him. He enters to witness the replay of a scene that’s lived in his nightmares for ten years. His family…hurt and in trouble, and he wasn’t here to help them. Barney lays collapsed on the floor, smoldering from his sister’s vicious attack. Firehawk and Belle phase through the monitor and appear in the room near Firestorm. Byte launches herself towards her father. “Blythe - - baby, is that you?” he asks. “Not anymore, Daddy,” she answers as she flies past him, “Oh, God. I’m so sorry. I wish I was never born!” And then she is out the door, and gone…leaving Frank Bonner to face a crossroad in his life for the second time.
“Belle…you…here? Barney…Barney’s hurt?” he says, confusedly looking around. Belle kneels, holding Barney. She has removed his helmet and cradles his head in her hands. “Yeah, he’s hurt, Mr. Bonner,” Ronnie explains, “But bad as he is, you can hurt him a whole lot more if you want. Like you hurt him and his sister last time.” Frank doesn’t understand, asking, “I hurt them?” Firehawk suggests he ask his son. Barney lies supported by Belle, perspiration streaming from his strained face, eyes wide with pain and shock from the battle. “Can…Mommy come home…now…please?” he asks softly. Frank Bonner kneels next to his son, looks at his wife, and starts to cry…
“Hate…anger…fear…Why do we let them get so mixed up with love?” Stein asks. Firestorm and Firehawk lean at the doorway looking back at the Bonners. “You tell us, Professor,” Ronnie answers, “You’re the adult. And adults always have all the answers…” Below and behind Ronnie is an electric outlet. As Ronnie speaks, it glows ever some slightly with a blue-white electrical light. The end. This time.
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