Meanwhile, a cruiser drew closer to Earth as a worried man sat in deep thought.
A pretty woman sat nearby, and she leaned closer to the dark-haired young man as she said, “You know, you didn’t have to make this trip personally. I could have handled things for you. I’m always glad to help you. I know this is painful for you!”
He nodded and took her hand in his own. “Thanks, Deena. You are the best partner a man could want. Still, it is precisely because of my former connection to the Legion that makes it necessary for me to handle the matter personally. I cannot allow the voters to view me as being so pro-Legion that I would ignore their interests to protect my old pals!”
Sitting back in the chair, he stared vacantly into space. Clearly, he was a man suffering from a sense of conflict and divided loyalties. In spite of his denial, Deena knew her partner cared deeply about the Legionnaires and was worried about what his mission would mean for his old friends.
Sun Boy knew that, while Shvaughn Erin and Gigi Cusimano were far prettier, no one at Science Police Headquarters knew more about data-gathering than Officer Qimdak. Thus, Sun Boy had swiftly flown to the Metropolis Science Police Headquarters and questioned the huge alien from Bolovax Vik II. Shortly afterward, the hero had flown across the city to the huge and teeming Metropolis Spaceport, where new arrivals to the planet could be found.
Officer Qimdak said that a search of travel permit requests indicated that, out of all the recently missing Venturans, only one woman, Lynda Delin, had loved ones who were currently on their way to Earth to look for their missing family member, he thought. Sharles was an orphan. Gleanna was single, too. Others either have already come here to look for loved ones who were among the first Venturans to vanish. Thanks to his data and my Legion flight ring, I’ve managed to get to the port just in time to spot the family in question!
Sun Boy waited out of sight behind the rows of flags that covered the spaceport docking center. He knew exactly what the Delins looked like, since Officer Qimdak had pulled up their holos from their travel permit records. Thus, Sun Boy soon recognized the elderly Brynk Delin and his heavy wife Sao. He watched them check in and nodded in approval as they walked away from the port in search of a taxi.
The passenger service air-cars that work this part of the city are easy to recognize for a native like me, he thought. However, the Delins don’t know that air car taxi registration scans can be faked! The one they are getting inside does not have a scan that matches any of the ones used by the companies I know about!
Flying in silent pursuit, Sun Boy remained high above out of sight of the vehicle. I think I just witnessed an abduction in the making. The driver did not pick up some tourists who tried to flag him down. He ignored them and deliberately swerved into the path the Delins were taking. He also knew who to look for, and that means he either has access to the same permit data I used, or he got their descriptions from their missing daughter!
Sun Boy followed the vehicle to a large facility near the part of the city known as Hamilton Park. He landed and peered through a skylight to see a shocking sight. Dozens of helpless people were locked in two big rooms, while some type of medical laboratory was located in the third chamber. He did not see any guards, except for one muscular black man and a very fat man with a shaven head.
The missing Venturans are being held here! he thought. It makes sense to me. The criminals are grabbing Venturans on Earth or in transit and bringing them here. They are using data taken from their captives to also grab their friends or family members when they show up to look for them! I even saw Flavia’s pal Gleanna down there!
“I’m going to alert the Science Police via Computo’s link in my flight ring, and then I’m going to go down for a closer look!” he said. “I think I can handle two thugs easily, but I won’t risk the captives being hurt just so I can grandstand.”
Sun Boy transmitted the message and then exerted enough heat to melt the skylight before flying inside.
The fat man gasped and pointed at the hero in desperation while shouting to the bigger black man. “Bal Gaard!” he shrieked. “A Legionnaire! Kill him! Kill him!”
Bal Gaard smiled coldly and said, “Relax, Andam. His body will decorate your mantle in a few moments!”
“I admit it takes a lot of nerve and skill to hold dozens of people captive when it appears like it’s just the two of you,” said Sun Boy, “but no matter what hold you’ve got on them, you’re dealing with the Legion now!”
Bal Gaard laughed harshly. He stepped into the light, and Sun Boy noticed the big black man wore a sleeveless blue tunic over white pants and blue boots. “We have no hold over the Venturans except for the same hold we’re going to exert over you, Sun Boy! My raw power keeps them in line, and it will suffice to end your career like a setting sun!” He flew into the air and slapped Sun Boy with enough speed and strength to send Dirk Morgna crashing to the floor.
Sun Boy groaned and forced himself to stand, even as his hand wiped blood away from his face. “No visible means of flight,” he said. “Brute strength on a level with Ultra Boy or greater, and enough speed and strength to keep dozens of captives under your thumb! I think I’ve got your number now!”
Bal Gaard did not follow up on his attack immediately. He merely grinned and landed to walk slowly toward Sun Boy. “Got me figured out, do you?” he said. “Good. I’m proud of my heritage, even though there aren’t many like me back home!”
Sun Boy created a golden nimbus of fire and blasted the cocky man with enough power to knock most men cold.
“Turn on your juice, punk!” said Bal Gaard. “Give me all you got. Come on, show me what makes you such a big man to the sheep who love the Legion!”
Sun Boy smiled and said, “Your wish is my command!” He suddenly altered the energy field he had generated until it changed color from yellow to red. The red solar energy surged around him and Gaard as he darted forward and punched Gaard in the nose. He followed up with three more rapid blows as the other bigger man gasped and staggered backward in dismay.
The Legionnaire ducked as Gaard swung at him with far less speed and power than he had initially displayed. “What are you doing to me?” yelled Gaard as Sun Boy stepped closer and delivered a final stunning punch.
“You’re from one of Daxam’s colony worlds,” said Dirk. “Your heritage is mixed enough that, while you’re not hurt by lead, you still gain super-powers under Earth’s sun. However, once I saturated you with red solar energy, you lost all that power and became nothing more than a cocky thug with a glass jaw!”
He turned to see the cowering form of the fat man named Andam cringing in the corner. “Please, do not hurt me!” he cried.
Sun Boy smiled as he heard the sound of approaching Science Police cruisers. “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you. No doubt the Science Police will be able to search your computer there to figure out exactly what kind of leak you used to locate the Venturans. Now, tell me one thing. Why did you and your super-powered henchman kidnap these people? If you just wanted credits, you could have taken people from any planet. Why Venturans?”
Science Police officers entered the building and started to free the prisoners as Sun Boy gave them directions and continued questioning Andam.
Andam sighed and said, “I needed Venturan blood! You see, Ventura is not only the gambling center of the United Planets, but it is also fabled to be the home of the Luck Lords themselves! I realized that I could sell Venturan blood in small vials to the superstitious natives of planets like Avalon, where every kind of myth and urban legend is held to be true! They would believe the blood capable of giving them good fortune!”
“You’d kill harmless people for your own enrichment?” said Sun Boy. “You’re sick! Well, you’ll pay for your crimes, and so will Gaard, there, when he wakes up.”
A pretty Science Police officer stepped forward and said, “Sun Boy, we’ve secured Gaard. The special cuffs Brainiac 5 gave us for such cases worked like a charm. He’ll be helpless until we can get him to Labyrinth. Considering how extremely stringent emigration from Daxam and its colony worlds is nowadays, I’m shocked to find a native here unaccounted for!”
Sun Boy nodded and said, “I’d say that is due to the fact that Andam, here, has a pal in either the customs division or the immigration department. He’ll be happy to name names for you so he can be on his way to jail before his captives decide to take a bit of his own blood. Won’t you, Andam?”
The Legionnaire glowed brightly and stepped closer to the fat man, who perspired profusely and said, “Yes! I will talk. Noha Reybold of the customs division gave me the data in exchange for a bribe!” The female Science Police officer smiled and had him led away as Sun Boy drew closer to her.
“What about the captives?” he asked.
“They are frightened, but otherwise unharmed,” she said. “He’d been bleeding them regularly, but none of them have died. That is a blessing!”
Sun Boy nodded and said, “Thank goodness. It’s bad enough that the vampire put them through this kind of senseless ordeal.”
She nodded and said, “You really care about people, don’t you? I had the idea that you were just a thrill-seeking glory-hound who thought he was richer, smarter, and more powerful than normal folks.”
“I do care,” said Sun Boy. “My powers came from a murder attempt. I know exactly how lucky I am just to be alive, much less to also have super-powers! I don’t take any of my blessings for granted!”
“My name is Megan Lynard,” she said. “Would you be free for dinner tonight?”
Dirk smiled and replied, “Let me give you a call. I may be occupied for a while!”
“Sure,” she said. “Do you have Legion business to take care of now?”
Sun Boy shook his head. “Not exactly. I’ve been watching the captives file out, and the man I originally came here to find is not among them! I’ve still got to figure out what happened to Sharles ‘Energy Boy’ Gluck!”