Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. They belong to DC Comics or the WB or someone. This is just for fun.
"C'mon, Chief. When we're alone, you can call me Plas." Special Agent O'Brien eeled on over to the desk of the FBI Chief of Internal Affairs. He ingratiatingly stretched across it, smiling that big rubbery grin and twisting his elongated neck so he could examine his boss's paperwork right-side up.
"O'Brien!" the Chief yelled again, setting his jaw and resolutely not recoiling in horror.
Plastic Man realized he was freaking his boss the hell out and withdrew to his own space. He resumed the guise of a normal FBI man, dark nondescript suit and all.
Life had gotten awful boring these last three or four decades, after Woozy retired and people stopped accepting costumed freaks as heroes. Plas supposed he should feel lucky they'd even kept him on at the Bureau, although being gradually shunted aside into nothing but internal investigations had sucked.
None of his co-workers liked him, and Eel O'Brien was always a man who loved being liked. No one knew who he was except a few high-ranking officials. To most of the FBI, he was that boring old narc in IA, and to the rest of the world he was nobody. Depressed, Eel sat quietly in his chair and waited for instructions. Chief Carruthers cleared his throat and rattled his papers. "Now, O'Brien. I've got a little job for you."
Plastic Man refrained from the obvious 'I'm all ears' line, and just tried to look attentive and professional. The chief, who had been obviously bracing himself, looked up at O'Brien and then back down at the documents on his otherwise-bare desk. "The Bureau has received information indicating that we may have a bad apple or two out in Kansas."
Carruthers looked at O'Brien expectantly. Eel raised an eyebrow attentively, then quickly lowered it again when Carruthers blanched. He must have raised that eyebrow a little too far.
"The LuthorCorp case, Chief?" O'Brien asked alertly.
"That's right. Our correspondent has a real axe to grind, but we've had questions with some of the Metropolis team members before. All the details are in this file."
"Right, Chief! I'm on my way!" One snappy salute later (okay, maybe a little too snappy) and Plas was outta there.
Something was seriously squirrelly in the city of Smallville. It didn't take a supersleuth to see that. Plas perused the Bureau file on the flight out, and then he checked the morgue at the Daily Planet before renting a staid slate-gray sedan and motoring out to the sticks.
Luthor & Luthor Inc. had an operatic quality to their family life that left him tutting like a maiden aunt. The moderate disapproval morphed to full-blown Alert Mode after he checked into the downtown Smallville Hotel and looked through the Smallville Ledger's archives.
Smallville's citizenry was unusual with a capital F-R-E-A-K-Y, from extra fingers to unexplainable deaths. It all seemed to trace back to a mysterious meteor shower fifteen years before.
In the olden days, he and Woozy would have been all over a mysterious meteor storm. There might have turned out to be an alien invasion or some sick mad science experiment going on. They would have investigated, and maybe saved the world from deadly peril again. If the peril turned out to be too doggone perilous, Plas would've held the fort and Woozy (The Man Nature Protects!) could've made a run for it, maybe brought in the Justice Society of America to help.
As it was, the sole outside response had been a half-baked EPA report. In fact, Plas recognized the name of the lead investigator. The man was a notorious drunkard, suspected of taking bribes, who kept his job only by knowing where all the interdepartmental bodies were buried and died of cirrhosis in 2001. The EPA report wasn't worth the pixels it was printed on.
Anyhow, Special Agent O'Brien wasn't here to battle mutants and monsters today. He had a job to do.
Step One: Surveillance
Just because he was an old costumed hero and reformed gangster (Plas deliberately didn't think of how old; it was disheartening.) didn't mean he disdained the modern intelligence community's toys. Every place in town that a rogue agent might go, O'Brien bugged. He wore a slightly-different-but-equally-bland face and outfit for each shop, bar, and public building. He eeled up the lampposts after dark, to position motion-activated cameras that he had linked to the facial-recognition program on his laptop. It would call his pager with the time and location when any of his targets were seen on the streets of Smallville.
The Luthors hadn't managed for as long as they had by allowing their activities to be spied upon. O'Brien would bet dollars to donuts that the big stone mansion outside town would be fully equipped with transmitter detector equipment. It required a different, more old-fashioned approach. Fortunately, Plas was a different, more old-fashioned guy. Why does the quick red fox jump over the lazy dog's back? To breach the security perimeter. Plas was willing to bet most of the Luthor Mansion Security Guards were new. They didn't seem to really know what they were doing. The dogs were easy to freak out, and that freaked the men out, too. Once the whole crew was reduced to pandemonium, slipping in and bugging the joint was cake. He'd have to come back and take the tapes (chips, actually, these days) periodically, but getting in and out would be no problem for Plastic Man.
Well, that was a good night's work, Plas thought the morning after all his bugs were in place. He strolled the sunny Smallville streets, whistling "The Waltz of the Bumblebees." He wished there were a coffee place near his hotel; nobody wants Bueno Nacho first thing in the a.m.
Ping ping ping! A quick check of his nifty laptop linkage (eat your heart out, Dick Tracy!) showed that Special Suspects A, B, and C, driving a Bureau-owned beater, were cruising the Smallville streets out towards the Smallville suburbs. Right on time for Sob-Sister Sullivan and her old man's dubious ride to the System Safe House.
Plas hopped into his nondescript sedan (how he sometimes longed for his old roadster!) and headed off to intercept. A tail is a tail is a tail. O'Brien had been following mugs in cars since before any of his current targets had been born (probably since before any of their fathers had been born.) Suddenly he was tired of the straightforward professional tail. Hanging back, varying speed, maintaining visual contact -- blah. He knew where the Safe House was. He sped up and blew by Huey, Dewie, and Louie as if they were standing still. It would be good to get a quick look-round at the joint in advance, anyhow.
He hid the car around the corner and infiltrated the house from the back. He figured he'd rummage around for a few minutes, zip out non-recognizably to tracer-tag the G-men's jalopy for later reference, then bounce on back into the house to surreptitiously survey the supposed sources. Suspect everyone!
It didn't work out quite that way.
Step Two: Salvation
Plas discovered the motion sensor right after he weaseled in through the back kitchen window and right before he realized that it had triggered a countdown. He figured out the countdown was leading to a big bomb boom while he was already heading for the front door at a dead run. He heard the front door open and the Sullivans come in (and realized the agents didn't, and that was proof that they were dirty) just before he barreled into the hapless witnesses. Hardly anybody knew that the Mars Exploration people got the idea for their giant inflatable tetrahedron (suitable for dropping delicate instruments from orbit) from Plastic Man. He expanded and enfolded the startled civilians in a big red bouncy protective shape, and they blew out the door and across the street on the blastwave.
"Pardon me," O'Brien said politely, then sproinged after the speeding government van. They hadn't had time to make as much of a getaway before the blast as they must have hoped, because Plas had triggered their bomb early. He caught up with them where they'd entangled their vehicle with a neighbor's rhododendron. Frightened Feds fled from every door, and Plas casually collected them with lazy elastic loops.
"Simmer down, simps," he snarled, cuffing the bad guys with their own cuffs. He left them in the van, and used its radio to call in for pick-up.
"Good job, O'Brien," Carruthers told him after the arrangements were made.
"Thanks, Chief. I gotta go; fire to put out, citizens to soothe."
Sullivan and Sullivan were standing at the curb. No one else was around. Window curtains didn't even flutter. Neighborhoods today. Tsk.
"Relax, folks. You're fine now. Special Agent O'Brien, FBI Internal Affairs."
The girl looked like there'd be a second, bigger, explosion of curious young reporter. Before she could build up sufficient steam for the blow-up, the old man said, "You're Plastic Man!"
Plas looked at him in surprise. It had been a long time since anyone had recognized him, even when he used his powers in public.
Her father's inside information seemed to stun Miss Sullivan. She blinked big green eyes and exclaimed, "What did you call him?"
The man's laugh was just a little hysterical. "That's Plastic Man, honey. He, I always kinda thought Dad was making up a story for the kiddies, but here he is, in the flesh, or, uh..."
"Have we met?" Plas asked. He didn't remember ever seeing this bozo before.
The guy laughed again. Sirens started sounding; Carruthers had tipped off the Fire Department, as promised. "You saved my dad's life, when I was four years old. Patrolman Michael Sullivan, when you helped bust up the Malone gang."
Plas remembered the Malone gang, and the clean-up afterward. There had been a few cops on the ground when it all ended, but nobody died. Wow. This balding heavyset guy, whose daughter was old enough to get contracts put out on her, had been a toddler when he and Woozy took out Marcus Malone.
"I think I maybe need to siddown a minute," Plas muttered. He looked around for something to sit on.
"Ohmigod!" Chloe Sullivan exclaimed. "If Mr. Luthor set up a house to blow up for us, what's he going to do to Lex? Or Clark?"
"That's a good point." Fire trucks pulled up, and firemen piled out of them. Plas grabbed a guy and flashed a badge. "Special Agent O'Brien, FBI. These two are witnesses in an important case. Those goons over there in the van set up the bomb. I need you to not let Miss and Mr. Sullivan here out of your sight until I give you the all-clear in person. Bad guys want them dead."
"Okay, sure," said the firefighter.
Plas headed for Luthor Manor.
Step Three: Salvage
Plas was gaining a lot of respect for Smallville Public Safety. The paramedics were just as prompt as the firefighters. Luthor's private security forces had been easy for him to evade again, but they might have presented an access problem for ambulance personnel. Fortunately, they got distracted when Plas dragged their unconscious employer out of the house, dumped him onto the front lawn, and started administering first aid (ignoring the idiots' interjections) just as the sirens started sounding in the distance.
It took forever (and some surreptitious digit morphing) to make the billionaire barf. He didn't seem to have much of a gag reflex. The stuff hadn't smelled like hydrocarbons, and there weren't any acid burns on the guy's mouth, so Plas figured it better come back out the way it went in.
The armed mouth-breathers and their dogs hovered threateningly over O'Brien and their vomiting boss. Guns bristled towards the ambulance as it zoomed up the drive, and Plas figured enough was enough. Somebody had to take charge.
"Listen up! I'm Special Agent O'Brien, FBI! Let the paramedics in, and let them do their work! Somebody poisoned the body you stumblebums were supposed to guard!"
The muttering minions stepped back and let the ambulance in. Plas watched long enough to satisfy himself that they were competent, then went back inside. He collected his bugs, data chips and all, and went out a back window.
Step Four: Sayonara
Eel's laptop link gave him an address and directions to Kent Organic Farm in Smallville. Miss Sullivan had been right about Lex Luthor. He'd have to check up on Clark Kent.
A thread of smoke was visible above the endless fields of corn. A farmer might be burning weeds, or the firebombs might have been on a buy-one-get-one sale. Plas made the rental show what it could do on the empty country road, and soon a cheery yellow farmhouse came into view. The smoke was coming from a field in back. Plas parked and went round to see what was up.
A resolute farmwife was raking dirt over a burned place. It looked almost like the field had been branded, but Plastic Man didn't think that was normal farm procedure. "Everything all right here, ma'am?" he called as he approached.
She looked up at him with shocky, haunted eyes. "Who are you?"
"Special Agent O'Brien, ma'am. FBI. Are you Mrs. Kent?"
She looked around wildly for a moment and clutched her rake in front of her. "I have nothing to say to the FBI, Mr. O'Brien. Unless you have a warrant, get off of my land."
This lady had obviously had a run-in or two with the bad Kansas apples. "Ma'am, I don't want to cause you any trouble. I'm with Internal Affairs. Less than an hour ago, I arrested the three agents responsible for setting a bomb to try to kill the Sullivans. Miss Sullivan said that somebody might also be gunning for Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. Upon checking on Luthor's residence, I found that Lex Luthor had been poisoned, but he's alive and on his way to the hospital now. Then I came here. Can you tell me where Clark Kent is?"
Mrs. Kent, if it was Mrs. Kent, was holding onto her self-control with desperate claws. The news about Sullivan and Luthor had obviously been bad, maybe confirming something she'd been afraid of already. She breathed hard (Plas kept his eyeballs firmly in their sockets, but man that was a nice sweater!) and stared hostilely at him. Her voice was incongruously cold and precise when she finally spoke. "I'm sorry, Agent O'Brien. I can't help you. And there's sure as hell nothing the FBI can do to help me." The last words forced themselves out of her against her will, if Plas was any judge.
He made a rash decision, and morphed into the form he knew the best.
"How about Plastic Man?"
"Get in the truck."
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