Sun Boy returned to Legion Headquarters and spent the next few hours working in the multi-lab. He had been pleased to see Flavia’s delighted expression upon her reunion with her old friend Gleanna. The Venturan woman’s normal high spirits had returned immediately upon her rescue. He had also noticed his stepmother’s obvious affection for Arn Digby. The two Legion parents had been together most of the afternoon, and Dirk hoped that the stalwart ex-miner would not be overwhelmed by the flamboyant Flavia Morgna. Salu didn’t look too pleased about the way her father seems to have been drawn to Flavia, he thought. I know we’re all adults, but I’d hate to see anybody get hurt. Arn may not realize Flavia is well-meaning but decidedly flighty!
Lifting a small device from a lab table, Dirk Morgna nodded in approval. “This device should help me locate Energy Boy via his unique nucleo-energy.”
Sun Boy soon flew over the city and frowned as the device led him directly to his father’s plant. Weird! he thought. Either this device is picking up some residual energy signature left from Gluck’s time here as an intern, or the reactors are setting it off. I may need to have Brainiac 5 look it over when he gets back!
The Morgna Nuclear Institute had expanded over the years to become a truly intergalactic concern with divisions that dealt with many aspects of commerce and science beyond nuclear energy. Morgna had become something of a brand name.
Sun Boy smiled with pride as he saw the distinguished form of his father, Derek Morgna. “Dirk! I’m happy to see you,” said the older man. “Are you going to be free this evening? If so, we could have dinner at the house.”
Dirk touched his father on the arm in greeting and said, “I think I’m going to be busy. I’m looking into the disappearance of one of your interns. A Venturan named Sharles Gluck is missing!”
Derek frowned in concentration and stroked his graying mustache. “The man you need to speak to is Auric. He pretty much runs things these days. I mean, he handles this facility. I’m still carrying the load for the entire company, of course!”
Dirk grinned. “Sounds to me like you’ve been slipping off to the moopsball finals again and leaving some poor employee to hold down the fort!”
Derek laughed loudly and clasped his son by the shoulders. “I have, at that! Luckily, I don’t have to retina-scan a time-card!” he said as he lit a cigar and began to puff away. He took Dirk to an office in which a smug little man with a brilliant blond head of hair sat at a large desk.
“Auric, this is the heir himself! You’ve never met my lad, but he’s here to seek help from you about one of our interns,” said Derek as he hurried into the office without knocking.
Auric jumped to his feet as a look of mild disgust crept across his features. “Certainly, certainly! What can I do for you, Dirk?” he asked.
Dirk extended his hand and shook hands with the thin man. “Nice to meet you, Auric. I’m looking into the Sharles Gluck case. Did he work for you personally? Who were his closest coworkers?”
“Gluck?” said Auric. “Oh, yes, Gluck. He was a promising worker. He was eager to please. I liked the boy!”
“You speak of him as if he was dead!” said Sun Boy.
“Forgive me,” said Auric. “Stupid habit. He was mainly doing very routine work. I would have offered him a job after he graduated. He was… is reliable to a fault!”
“I’ll leave you two to sort it out,” said Derek. “If I can help, give a yell!”
Sun Boy nodded and said, “Thanks, Dad!” He turned to face Auric and said with a disarming smile, “You must be very comfortable around Dad. Usually, his Rimborian cigars make folks cough.”
“I don’t notice them anymore,” said Auric.
“You were telling me about Sharles,” prompted Dirk.
“Of course,” continued Auric. “Sharles worked with Devin Karr below in the lower offices. The lads called it the inferno as way of a jest!”
They dropped down a pneumatic tube, and Sun Boy noticed the man’s landing sent a rather heavy blast of air upward.
For a small man, he sure landed heavy, he thought. Weird, the smoke from Dad’s cigar didn’t bother him, either. His name even makes me start to suspect something about him that may mean serious trouble! Sun Boy followed Auric into a hallway that ended in front of a closed room.
“The old reactor down here is being dismantled,” said Auric. “Excuse the mess!” He opened the door by punching in a code on a wall panel, and then the two men entered the huge chamber.
When the doors closed behind them, Auric turned and swung at Sun Boy, but the hero dodged the blow and delivered one of his own.
“You’re a robot!” cried Sun Boy. “I can tell from the way it felt when I hit you! You’re a humanoid-designed robot! The way you ignored the cigar smoke, and how heavy you are proves it! Plus, I’d wager that name taken from the Latin word for gold even means your maker is my old enemy, Dr. Regulus!” The Legionnaire generated a blast of intense heat that caused Auric’s flesh to melt and reveal a solid gold robotic body.
“Clever! Still, all your wits can’t stop us now!” said the dissolving robot.
Sun Boy turned to see a man in golden armor emerge from deep within the room. “Zaxton Regulus! I thought I recognized the smell! You’ve learned to make your clunky old gold robots remarkably lifelike! How long have you been hiding out here? I’d say planting Auric here and having him secure you your own lair within Dad’s complex is pretty daring, even for you!”
Dr. Zaxton Regulus was a balding man with a mustache. He glared at Sun Boy and ignored the hero’s heat rays, since he, too, could generate intense energy at will through his armor. “Dirk, I didn’t expect to avoid you,” he said. “I’m prepared for this meeting. You see, this armor is merely decorative in many ways. It is nothing more than the outer trappings of the triumphant warrior! I have regained the power to melt flesh from bone! I am once more your superior! The power of the sun rests within my body!”
“That’s what this is about, isn’t it?” said Sun Boy. “You knew you couldn’t count on regular visits to drain the power of the Arion star that first gave you innate powers. That’s why you kidnapped Sharles Gluck! You’re tapping into his personal nucleo-energies! Where is he?”
Dr. Regulus laughed and said, “I am doing far more than that! I created Auric and had him infiltrate this complex months ago in order to secure a base in which I could rest and work! He did so. Your arrogant father never questions his loyal aide. I could have used this plant for any number of projects. However, I decided to concentrate on regaining my personal power first! Auric learned about Gluck’s unique power, and combined with the talents of another Legion reject, we’ve turned that young man into a living energy source that is better than any distant star!”
“Another Legion reject?” said Sun Boy. “Golden Boy! You mean Golden Boy! His unique power to transmute items into gold makes him a perfect source for your experimental devices! You always did like to use radioactive gold to fuel your armor and weapons.”
Regulus laughed loudly and said, “Good thinking! You have brains, boy! It is a shame I have to splatter them across this city! I did indeed capture the hapless Golden Boy, and he and young Sharles have become my personal human batteries. Infinite amounts of gold and radiation are mine now!”
Sun Boy flew around the gloating rogue and spotted the helpless young men. They were chained within a weird machine that combined elements of a reactor with a more biomedical device. Golden Boy even still wore a version of the yellow body suit which he had once hoped would make him famous. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Triumph of the Legion of Super-Villains,” Adventure Comics #331 (April, 1965).]
“I’ll have you free in no time!” Sun Boy said in a reassuring tone.
“Sun Boy!” cried Sharles Gluck. “We’re not helping him willingly! We’ve both tried to resist him, but he’s too powerful!”
Next to him, Golden Boy said nothing. Klint Stewirt merely looked at the Legionnaire with sorrow etched on his features.
Sun Boy whirled to face Dr. Regulus. “Let them go!” he cried. “I’m the one you want. I’m the one you hate!”
Dr. Regulus glowed with a fiery radiance as he shook his armored fist. “I do hate you! That hatred kept me going on many a night during my time locked away on one prison world after another! Well, that burning hatred will do more than slay you. I’ll turn Metropolis into your personal funeral pyre! One brilliant blast of radiation and fire will light the night and mark the spot on which Sun Boy met his final fate!”
“You’re feeding off their powers via that armor!” said Sun Boy. “It’s linking you to them via bio-implants! The power may be channeled into your own body through a bio-link, but that armor still regulates it. I see it all! I see also that you are as mad as ever!” He stepped forward and added, “I dare you to attack me! You are nothing but a cowardly old man who hides behind stolen power!”
“I’ll prove you wrong!” yelled Dr. Regulus. “I’ll burn that infernal cocky smile off your face!” He clutched his fists as heat and energy crackled around him.
“Sun Boy, don’t taunt him!” cried Energy Boy. “He’s tapping our power, and we can’t resist him!”
“I don’t want you to do so!” shouted Sun Boy. “Do what I tell you. Let him have as much power as you can! Don’t even try to resist!”
They obeyed him as Dr. Regulus glowed ever brighter, and even Sun Boy found himself growing worried. If his plan failed, he might die along with much of Metropolis.
Still, even R.J. Brande himself, Legion founder and star-maker, had once underestimated Sun Boy’s grasp of nuclear physics. Plus, Sun Boy knew more about Regulus than anyone. Countless battles had given him that kind of personal data. Sun Boy took advantage of his foe’s preoccupation to adjust the bio-link device and then shatter a control dial.
Dr. Regulus whirled to knock Sun Boy to the ground with a fiery fist. “You meddle with your betters! Well, your futile efforts can’t stop me! I’m burning like a human star! I will melt the city and then rule this planet!” he yelled as even his eyes gained a pale yellow glow.
Sun Boy rolled aside and stood up. “All that power is yours now, but it comes with a price. I shattered your dampening link. You can’t control or regulate the energy flow anymore! You’re getting the power, whether you like it or not!”
Dr. Regulus smiled broadly and said, “Are you mad? Of course I want it! I want it all!” But before he could continue speaking, Dr. Regulus vanished.
Sun Boy jumped forward and deactivated the device draining the two young men, then helped them to their feet.
Sharles Gluck panted for air and leaned heavily on Sun Boy as Golden Boy staggered behind them. “Did we kill him?” he said. “Did all that nuclear energy burn him to molecules?”
Sun Boy shook his head. “Nope! I modified the intake of nucleo-energy and radiation so he received a massive dose of what I’d roughly call quantum energy, for lack of a more precise term. The raw feedback tossed him through the quantum zone itself. Should he ever emerge, it will be thousands of years from now! He may be lost in the zone forever!”
“Amazing!” said Klint. “He captured me right after I returned to Earth. I am through with the heroic life. I thought I wanted to try to audition for the Legion again, but now I just want peace!”
“Don’t worry,” said Sun Boy, “you and Sharles will be fine! Zaxton is long gone because of his own greed!”