"I guess Incinerator finally met his match!" Dry Martini scoffed, lighting his cigar from the flaming hair of the chain-bound villain struggling at his feet. The rest of Justice Inc. stood around their vanquished foe and joined Martini's hardy laugh while Dogzilla barked in unison. The sun was just touching the horizon, somewhere -- not that the horizon could be seen from anywhere inside the City.

The Adjudicator only scowled. "Victory was certain," he mumbled, "but will the check clear?" The wail of sirens approached and the superheroes were quickly surrounded by festive blue uniforms, guns holstered and topped by broad grins. A wide man in a brown trench coat stepped forward and held out his badge, carefully avoiding the muck that pooled in the alley.

"Good work Jude," a voice scratched from beneath the man's lowered fedora. "All tied up nice and neat, and with minimum structural damage," he finished up with a glare towards Captain Careener, who threw back his head and laughed.

"Structural damage is the Captain's forte!" the blue-helmeted muscle proclaimed.

The Adjudicator smiled and pulled out the Clipboard of Justice. "It's always a pleasure to serve the public, Detective Johnson. Please sign here." Despite the preceding scuffle, the papers were immaculate; Jude took pride in keeping everything in order, unlike some other teams he could name.

Johnson signed the forms in triplicate while Dry Martini and Opposite Woman loaded the Incinerator into the back of a metal-lined cargo van. The prisoner struggled, but as long as Opposite Woman held him his fearsome powers were impotent. The cops kept their distance until the doors slammed shut and Martini remarked, "Keep the chains, boys."

With screeching tires the police were gone; once the last cop was out of sight, Justice Inc. began walking back towards the Fell Suburban. Everyone trudged silently except for Opposite Woman, who proclaimed half-heartedly, "I sure am glad we parked so far away."

The Adjudicator winced in anticipation and gingerly lifted some garbage cans out of his path, but Dry Martini only grunted. He normally didn't have much patience for Opposite Woman's bland sarcasm, but it looked like the only thought on his mind at that moment was finding a dry cleaner for his tux. Trashy alleys and firey soot were not his preferred battlegound.

The Count and the Fell Suburban were where they left them, and as they approached the jet-black monstrousity The Count unlocked the doors from the inside and they all piled in.

"Shotgun," the Captain announced, shoving Jude aside.

The Adjudicator shrugged wistfully; "Not in the middle," he proclaimed, and everyone scooted around to make room. The windows were darkened and nearly opaque to protect The Count, and once the doors were pulled shut the team relaxed in dim, air-conditioned luxury.

"Ten thousand dollars!" The Count exclaimed, once they were all inside, turning around to face the rear from the driver's seat. "Hey, why all the glum faces? The police dispatcher just said that the mayor raised the bounty on Incinerator to ten gees!"

"Bark!" said Dogzilla, and everyone's faces brightened up (except for Opposite Woman's).

"That'll just about cover my cleaning bill," Dry Martini said, giving his top hat a rap against the blackened suburban window. Jude knew he'd probably toss out the whole tux just as soon as they got home, and he was surprised the gentleman could tolerate the filth for so long.

"It'll do more than that," The Count began excitedly. "We can get the Steps of Justice painted and bring our handicapped bathroom up to code!"

"Even though the building was grandfathered out of some regulations, I'll feel better once we're in compliance," The Adjudicator said, brightening futher. "Criminals can't fight crime."

Captain Careener turned back from the front seat and said seriously, "It'll play well with the ladies, too, and they're my forte. The Freedom Force has been all over the papers and the City's asking, 'What have you done for me lately, Justice Inc.?' Well how about when we just pounded Incinerator, huh, City? How about that?! Now gimmie some sugar, baby!"

The Captain and Martini exchanged high-fives, and Opposite Woman began crying. "I'll just stay home," he said, and everyone laughed, clapping him on the back.

"We'll have a splendid night on the town!" The Count said. "Just as soon as I finish the paperwork. Forms don't sign themselves, you know. I'm getting some new business cards printed up, too."

"You can't change your name again," The Adjudicator interrupted. "We all like The Count; it's already been decided."

The Count started the engine and pulled away from the curb. "I don't like being stereotyped. How about 'The Actuary'? Or 'The Actuator'? Or even just something a little less gothic."

The Fell Suburban roared into the twilight.



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