That evening found Spoiler outside an old house in the hills outside of Gotham City. The rundown property was quiet, but she could see bright lights within the dusty windows, and there were numerous cables and wires running into the house.
For an old place, it has a lot of modern-looking connections, she thought. I think Egghead must have his lab in the basement. Oracle tapped into the theater agency’s files and came up with this address for Egbert Vincent. I wonder what he really wanted with the stuff his gang took from those labs while he was strutting around as Egghead to draw away the police? Promethium is a self-generating energy source, while the other papers he took had to do with highly experimental physics. She quipped, “I don’t suppose he’s trying to figure out which came first — the chicken or the egg?”
She slipped around to the garage and noted the truck from the farmers market robbery along with the cage that held the stolen chickens. A van was parked nearby. He didn’t even bother to move the chickens off the truck! she thought. That almost proves that the whole purpose of his crimes was to draw attention away from something else. He doesn’t care about the valuable chickens, and I bet the Faberge eggs were equally unimportant to him.
Spoiler ducked swiftly as she heard the sound the footsteps on the gravel walkway. Two burly men came closer, and she smiled to herself. I guess those goons were the ones who robbed the labs while their boss Egghead was hamming it up for the crowds. Hamming it up? I’ve got to do something about this sudden pun addiction of mine! Maybe Nightwing has some self-help program that can cure habitual punners.
Uncoiling a thin rope from her belt, she carefully used it to snare the corner of the porch. With a carefully timed tug, she pulled the wire and tripped both of the men. Before they could rise, she flipped on top of them and broke open a gas pellet that left them unconscious.
Spoiler whirled around, but there was no sign that anyone within the house had heard her attack. She bound the two men and pulled them into the garage. Now for Egghead, she thought, then peered in another window and spotted the weird figure of Egghead. He was sitting in a chair and reading aloud to himself from one of Shakespeare’s works.
Crashing through the window, Spoiler struck the startled actor-turned-villain with two vials that shattered upon contact and caused him to double over with pain. “The nausea-inducing drug will slow you down long enough for me to finish you off! What’s wrong? Are you shell-shocked?” she joked as she punched him in the nose.
“Witticisms in the face of sudden death,” he said. “How like the young.” He fought through the nausea and reached into his frock coat as Spoiler kicked him in the hand and broke another pellet. A sticky goo coated him and left his arm trapped within the confines of his coat.
Spoiler shoved him backward and stood over him. “Egg-citing, isn’t it, Egbert?” she said.
Egghead moaned softly and said, “How utterly uninspired! I don’t know how you found me, but you are in no position for gloating!”
“Really?” said Spoiler. “I tracked you down, figured out you were using those flamboyant crimes and the colorful Egghead persona to distract us from your real goals. You really wanted those science materials for some sinister purpose. Why shouldn’t a perky girl heroine gloat a little?”
Egghead smiled wickedly as something struck Spoiler from behind. As she blacked out, she heard him say, “Because I’m not the only Egghead here…”
Spoiler awakened to find herself bound to a chair. Her equipment belt had been removed, and she was seeing spots.
“Uhhh… What hit me?” she whispered. She fought through the pain to see that she was in a laboratory in what appeared to be a basement room. Huge machines lined the walls, and directly in front of her loomed what appeared to be an egg-shaped portal of some kind.
Egghead stepped into view and grinned broadly. “You were careless. How egg-ceedingly sorry I am to have to tell you that, while you were correct in your surmising that I assumed the role of Egghead as a means of distracting all from certain less-spectacular crimes, you failed to realize that those crimes were not carried out by witless henchmen. They were carried out by my equally gifted brother.”
He gestured to where a smaller bald man in a white lab coat stood adjusting certain controls on the machines. “Egbert is right,” mumbled the smaller man. “He has always had a flair for showmanship that I lacked. Thus, when I decided to steal the materials needed to create my creation-catalyst machine, he was the perfect choice to dominate the attention of various authority figures with his rather theatrical ways.”
“Edward is more of the shy type,” said Egghead. “Still, he is very clever. His invention will allow him to literally rule the world by tapping into the raw matter of its creation. He will use it to alter all reality by shaping human history to his own liking.”
Edward Vincent scowled as his brother talked. He shook his head, then said, “As usual, you oversimplify the matter, Egbert. This device will allow me to reshape human history according to my merest thought. While Luthor, Ivo, and Morrow have greatly notoriety, it is my genius that will have the greatest influence on the world, since my device will literally let me mold reality as I please! Egbert’s crimes and his punning persona were certainly ridiculous, but they masked my real agenda, and that agenda will prove to be epic.”
Egghead scowled and said, “Edward, you wound me! My Egghead persona is my greatest creation! My acting skills and performance ability blended perfectly to create a master villain! ”
Edward brushed aside his taller brother and said, “I have no more time for your foolish posing. Once I activate the machine, and it becomes attuned to my thought patterns, I will literally rule the world, and no one will be able to stop me!” He adjusted a series of controls, and the machine glowed with a lurid light. Flashes of color began to irradiate the egg-shaped portal.
Spoiler had managed to slip one hand free and was working furiously to free the other one. This guy is crazy, she thought. He’s also scary! I’m starting to see things in that weird window. Maybe I can distract them!
“I have friends!” she shouted. “Batwoman will stop you!”
The smaller brother turned to face the captive girl, and his eyes widened with anger. “Batwoman? Batwoman?!” he shrieked. “You amuse me, child! Batwoman can’t stop me! No one can! My mind is already linked with the reality-altering catalyst! Batwoman, indeed.”
The window’s flashing colors gave way to a humanoid figure, a dark-haired woman in yellow and red. She moved closer to the portal, then grabbed Edward from behind. As she pulled the little man into the gaping portal, she winked at Spoiler and then vanished from sight.
Spoiler broke free at that second as Egghead rushed toward the machine. That was the original Batwoman! she thought incredulously. He said his mind was capable of messing up history. Maybe when I got him to start thinking of her, he somehow made her real again. Of course, I’d been talking about the current Batwoman.
Egghead looked into the hazy portal for a moment and then sighed heavily. “Poor Edward,” he said with a wicked smile. “He was simply too careless. He lacked a showman’s attention to detail! No matter; I shall carry on in his place and make Egghead a truly memorable villain!”
Spoiler hesitated and then stunned the rambling villain with a gas pellet. As he fell to the floor, she pulled him away from the weird machine and summoned help via her earrings. I can’t mess with that machine, she thought. I need an expert. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe I imagined it all from that blow to the head, but I really think I saw Kathy Kane in that dimension, or whatever you call it. She saved me!
Later, as Stephanie Brown sat across from Barbara Gordon, the two heroines discussed the case.
“Egbert Vincent doesn’t seem to miss his bossy sibling,” said Babs. “I think he’s just thrilled to have created his Egghead identity, and he apparently envisions a glorious criminal career for himself when or if he ever gets out of jail.”
Stephanie shook her head. “I know he seemed to really love playing the part.”
Babs took her hand and said, “You did a really good job. You found the brothers. You stopped Egghead, and you called in Oracle so she could dispatch scientists to dismantle the machine. You don’t need to look so sad. Edward Vincent brought about his own doom.”
“It’s not that,” Stephanie said. “It’s Batwoman — Kathy Kane. If that machine really warped reality and brought her back into existence, even for a few moments, I feel like I should have saved her, too. I mean, I hesitated, but maybe if you had been there, you might have brought her through that portal.”
“Stephanie, you don’t know that,” said Babs. “If that was Kathy brought back in some way, then she did exactly what she always did. She bravely risked all to help others. She wouldn’t condemn you, and you shouldn’t blame yourself. In fact, from what you say, I think the original Batwoman gave you her official seal of approval.”
Stephanie smiled and said, “I hope so. I really do.”