"I followed the three muggers back to their place, and overheard the phone number they called to report to the guy that hired them. And then I called that number myself, and the Mayor answered," Steve Zodiac was almost finished telling his story to Detective Damon. "He attacked me and I flattened him. And in his safe I found the satchel with the 'ransom money' ponied up by the city last week."
"You took two shots and don't even have a bullet hole in you to show for it?" Damon asked, unbelievingly. "You one of those super heroes? Come to think of it," he mused, stroking his chin, "the Batman was here for a while, and he works with Superman all the time. Could it be..."
"Hey, hold on!" Zodiac interrupted, laughing. "Just a bulletproof vest, see?" He pulled open his shirt, which had two ragged holes in the side, to show a bulletproof vest with several dings in it. "These two, right here," he said as he touched two of the dents, which lay right under the holes in the shirt.
"Well I'll be damned! That was good work, Zodiac!" Damon replied. "So, Foxcroft was the boss and Vardol was in on it too?"
"I don't know anything about Vardol; he wasn't talking to me." Zodiac grinned, Foxcroft had been unconscious about 3 seconds after he'd seen the PI enter his bedroom, and still hadn't awakened by the time the deputies had arrived. "I don't see how he could have pulled off the bidding and permit scams without Vardol's help, though," the PI replied. "With Vardol gone, maybe we'll never know. Personally, though, I think he's somewhere on the bottom of Lake Erie, feeding the fish."
"We'll find out when _we_ interrogate Foxcroft," Damon promised resolvedly. "Thanks for leaving at least something for me and the Sheriff's Department to figure out." He paused for a couple of seconds, thinking something over. "You know, if you ever think of joining the force, let me know and I'll be happy to put in a good word for you with Sheriff Lambert."
"Thanks, Don, but I don't think so. I've decided to move to New York City and see if Steve Zodiac, PI, can make it there. I want to see the famous sites, and find the romance and danger waiting in it beneath the Broadway lights," Zodiac replied, shaking his head.
"Well, you be careful in New York. They might lock you up for breaking and entering and assault and battery if you try any chicanery like you did with Foxcroft last night," Damon warned. "If you get caught..."
"Thanks, Don. I'll just have to make sure I don't get caught, eh?" They shook hands and parted. Damon sighed, and started filling out the paperwork for the case.
Hope's new friends threw her a going-away party; everyone from the paper and the cast and crew of the play 'Pat Parker, War Nurse' were there as well. "Gee whiz, Hope, your going to New York is sure a surprise!" Janie said sadly. "We just got to know you and it was nice, having a girlfriend who knows how to fight. All my other friends think I'm some kind of weirdo!"
She turned to the woman with Hope, a blonde woman in her early 40s. "I should be angry with you, Miss Moore..."
The blonde cut her off. "Please call me Sandra," she requested with a smile.
"OK, Sandra," Janie continued. "I should be angry with you for taking my friend away. But, the chance to be the understudy to the lead on a Broadway production is what Hope really wants. How exciting to be contacted by a famous agent like you!"
"We expect Kiss Me Kate to be one of the best received musicals next year," Sandra replied. "Even if Hope never has to fill in for the lead, Holly Harris, she'll be near the top of the line for future lead roles."
"So make sure you write and tell us about the neon lights on Broadway. I want to know if there really IS magic in the air!" Janie insisted to her friend. "Wish I could come with you but Herb and I are going to settle down here. He thinks he might be first in his own line, to be the next Sheriff of Radiance when Sheriff Lambert retires."
She turned back to Sandra. "You don't seem to think it's weird that I know how to fight. Why not?"
"I was a Secret Service agent when I was your age," the blonde replied. "Got in a lot of fights myself. Got promoted fast, too. Until..." she paused and looked sad, then started again. "I was Assistant Director when the war ended. But I eventually realized that they weren't about to promote a woman to Director. So I resigned and became another sort of agent. And here I am."
Hope was swept away into the party by some of her other friends, but some time later, she found herself alone with Tom.
"I never got a chance to tell you, but you made a _great_ Batman!" Tom offered her some praise. "You fooled everyone."
"Everyone but you, of course," Hope joked. "Actually, I sort of used you as my model. Your build, your mannerisms, though I deepened the voice considerably."
Tom was flattered, but he had something else on his mind. "You wouldn't know anything about that Steve Zodiac character who busted Foxcroft, would you?" he asked suspiciously. "Damon said he looked enough like me to be my brother, even with dark, curly hair instead of blonde. Damon also said Zodiac was moving to New York."
"Never heard of him, Tom," she replied, crossing her fingers.
"Well, I hope he's successful in the Big Apple. And you, too, of course! I'm looking forward to hearing about you in the future." His smile faded. "But you had better be really careful if most people found out what you can do, they might hate and fear you!"
Hope shuddered when he said that. She didn't consciously remember it, but that was exactly the way her species was received on Earth in the 30th century.
"Thanks for the warning, Tom. And thanks for accepting me, even after you found out my power."
He smiled. "Make sure nobody else finds out. Good luck. I'm sure you'll be famous in a couple of years."
She was swept into the party again, and then swept into the rest of her life.