In a reserved box in the Pyramid, Silver St. Cloud and Kari Limbo sat enjoying the show.
“Thank you so much for inviting me up here for the show. I am usually in my tent casting fortunes during the performances, so I rarely get to see them outside of rehearsals.”
Silver just smiled. “I didn’t realize that you weren’t part of the regular performance, or I would have asked you earlier.” She paused while a waiter placed a glass of wine and a cup of steaming tea on the table between them. “After all, what’s the use of being in charge if you can’t enjoy the perks once in a while. Normally, the only time I use this box is if we have a figure skating show.”
As the two women enjoyed the show, a third woman observed them from a neighboring box. Lucille Branson had chosen to take advantage of one of the University’s box seats for a bit of field observation. As everyone else watched the performance, she watched the spectators, trying to gauge their reactions to various parts of the show. Her observations included the two very different-looking women in the box next to hers, women who were obviously enjoying themselves while paying casual attention to the acts below.
Suddenly, Lucille heard a sound like a bird chirping and saw the platinum blonde reach for a telephone on the table beside her. Through the noise of the circus and the crowd, she managed to hear the older woman say, “Yes, I understand. I’ll be right there.” As she rose, she had a worried look on her face. The smaller, darker woman stood also, and they quickly left the room.
Curious, Professor Branson grabbed the large, black carry-all bag at her feet, and hurried to follow.
Blast it, this is trickier than I thought! The Trickster let out a giggle at his own little joke as he worked the controls on a remote control unit that he had purchased from a model airplane shop. How the devil did Mirror Master ever manipulate the things he hid with those prisms, anyway? Son of a gun probably had some special lens in his mask so he could see them. Lord knows, he seemed to have special lenses for everything else!
Using a device on his belt to reduce the power on the prism device, he was able to make the huge model appear as a ghostly image, just enough so he could steer it through the corridors. Good thing there’s nobody around, he thought as he sent the model drifting down a large staircase. Once it was at the bottom, he made it vanish once more.
“Hold it right there, bub!” called a loud voice. The Trickster turned to spot the large frame of Officer Jeffery Pike in a doorway behind him. “I don’t know what you’re doing here, but I’d bet my next month’s paycheck that you’re connected to that missing circus model.”
Setting the lifters on the model to hover in place, the Trickster grinned. “I’m afraid you’d lose that bet, Officer. No connections, no strings, no nothing! Please, feel free to check for yourself.” He quickly slipped the control unit up one of his sleeves as he flipped a small lever on a harmless-looking joy buzzer in his palm.
“Let’s just see about that. Turn around!” Pike grabbed the felon’s arms and spun him toward the wall. As he did, electricity coursed through his body, rendering him unconscious.
“I always knew that the only thing needed to make these buzzers sell again was a minor charge!” he laughed as he turned off the electric charge. “Of course, it helps if you lace your clothes with a little copper wire webbing!”
“Don’t ask me how, but somebody has stolen the big circus model from the Chandler Hall! I don’t believe it!” Silver St. Cloud strode down the long hallway, her long skirt billowing around her legs. Her calm, composed manner was in sharp contrast to Kari Limbo, who was just about running to keep up, dozens of questions forming in her mind and falling away unspoken.
Finally, one question did burst past her lips. “Do they know how it was taken?”
“No, there’s no sign of how it was done. It took a team of six people three days to put it all together. The police officers working guard duty had been in there just twenty minutes earlier.” Silver turned and walked through an open doorway, colliding with a colorfully clad figure in the next room.
“What is it with this place? A man can’t take three steps without tripping over — welll, hello there, ma’am!” The Trickster stopped in his tracks, his eyes running over the two ladies before him. “Yeah, without tripping over some very lovely ladies.”
“Who the hell do you think you are?” Silver turned to glance at Kari. “He’s not one of the performers, is he?”
Kari’s sharp eyes recognized the sharp chin and nose, the merry blue eyes under the mask. “Actually, I think he is, but not like this. I recognize the costume; he used to run with some of the crooks that the Flash battled in Central City.”
“Well, it’s nice to be recognized and remembered, but I really must be going. If you ladies will excuse me…”
The Trickster was interrupted by a new voice — a voice that didn’t speak, but that sang to him in tones that left him dazed and confused. Silver and Kari both heard the voice and felt as if they were floating out of their bodies. Slack-jawed, they watched as the Trickster fell to the floor. Once he was down, the song faded, and they found themselves back in control of their bodies. They turned to find the source of the music and discovered a third woman behind them. Clad in a long, midnight-blue gown, with long slits up the sides, the dark-skinned woman’s face was covered by a swatch of matching cloth.
“I’m sorry about that. It’s hard to narrow the music’s effect down to a single person.” She reached out to take the hand of each woman. “Call me Blue Velvet. I’m here to help.”
“What did you do to him?” asked Kari. “What did you do to us?“
“Subsonic audio waves interacting with the nervous system. The type of music I sing causes different effects,” explained the masked woman. “I heard you say something about the circus model being stolen, and he must be the one behind it.”
“Probably,” said Silver, “but if he’s here, where’s the model?”
The three women looked around the room. It was a meeting room with double doors open to the main corridor and another set of closed doors at the back.
“Where do those lead to?” asked Blue Velvet.
Silver thought for a second. “A service corridor. It runs behind most of the conference rooms and exhibition halls. It ends at the loading docks.” She started toward it, fishing in her purse for a key ring. She unlocked and opened the door but was stopped by Kari before going through.
“If the door is locked, how could he get through it?” She untied a scarf that was holding her hair and tossed the gossamer cloth into the air. It appeared to stop well before it lost momentum.
Blue Velvet smiled. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Let me see; he would want to keep it away from the walls, so…” Kari walked to one edge of the room, balled up the scarf, and tossed it again. This time, it rose nearly to the ceiling, then came down in an arc toward the middle of the room. It opened up as it descended, then draped itself in midair over a complex structure.
“Well, I’ll be… Ten feet up in the air, he could have left this parked here for a couple of days without anybody noticing. After the police checked the place, he could come back, pick that lock, and take it right out.”
Just then there was a commotion in the service corridor. Glancing toward the door, Kari and Silver both recognized the resident magician of the Kane Circus, Mike Smith, coming through with his wife, Jill. “What’s going on? We just finished our act, and Earl Wyatt’s nowhere to be found. We were going back to the dressing rooms to check on him.”
“He’s right here,” said Kari, indicating the unconscious Trickster. “Seems our Mr. Wyatt wasn’t quite who he seemed to be. He tried stealing the model, and now it’s up there,” she pointed up toward the ceiling, “and we have no idea how to get it down or how to make it visible again.”
“I was wondering who was doing the levitation act. Let’s see; if we can bring some tables in here, I might be able to help.” Mike bent to whisper something in Jill’s ear, and she gathered the others to help bring the tables that the model originally sat upon from the other room.
“Don’t mind Mike; he knows what he’s doing,” she hastened to reassure them.
Minutes later, Blue Velvet, Silver St. Cloud, and Kari Limbo watched as Doctor Apollo and his assistant Madame Merlin, better known to them as Mike and Jill Smith, worked a bit of their stage magic on the hidden floating model. “Be careful with that, Mr. Smith; that piece of work is worth nearly a hundred-thousand dollars.”
“I understand, Miss St. Cloud. Don’t worry, it’s just like juggling eggs.” He smiled. “Just one very large, oddly shaped egg.” Mike raised his hands, murmuring directions to his assistant that none of the others could make out. Seemingly at his direction, the great, delicate construct faded into view above them. Then, working together, they pulled the model down to rest on the table. “Now, if each of you would detach some of those small boxes along the sides, we can let go of this.”
They quickly moved to help, detaching the small anti-gravity units. Finally, the magicians both relaxed. “Good; the boxes also held the devices that hid it from view,” noted Jill.
“That was amazing. I’ve seen a lot of wonders in my time, but that takes the cake. How could you counter his scientific gizmos with stage magic?” asked the masked heroine.
“Oh, that would be telling, now, wouldn’t it?” answered the blonde magician. “It’s actually nothing that any of you couldn’t learn with the proper teacher. By the time we get through the winter layover, Jill, here, will probably be able to do something like that all by herself.”
“Oh, you aren’t wintering in Florida with the rest of the troupe?” asked Kari.
“No. I just found that I have a very distant relative living near Denver. I thought we might get together, catch up on our respective journeys in this strange land.” Mike and his wife headed for the service corridor. “We’d best get ready for the finale. Jill hates missing the final blow-off.” With that, they were gone.
“Such a strange man, isn’t he?” said Silver as she checked the model.
Just then, she and the others were struck by thin streams of a sticky substance that clinged to them and made it hard to move.
“You know, you do-gooder types really should learn to make sure the bad guy is locked up before you go looking to take care of the loot!” cried the Trickster with spray cans in either hand and a wicked smile on his face. “My special formula for Silly String should keep you here long enough for me to get to my truck!”
Ten minutes after the Trickster made good his escape, officers Tashi and Pike found the three ladies in the conference room with the model. Radioing for more officers to report to the room, Tashi added a request that somebody contact the Central City Police Department to see if they had something to clean up the Trickster’s goop.
The day following the aborted robbery, three women gathered in Silver St. Cloud’s office.
“You’re serious about being a super-heroine, aren’t you?” asked Silver.
Blue Velvet sipped at her tea, gazing into the depths of the cup. “I think I can do some good, if that’s what you mean. I learned a bit yesterday, and I won’t make the mistake of leaving a criminal unsecured again.”
“If you can learn something each day, then you will have a full life. I sense that there are great things ahead for you, young lady.” Kari’s eyes closed as she settled back into her chair. “I will, of course, be moving on from here, but I don’t think I will be remaining with the show in Florida for the winter. I have an old friend who, I think, might need a little help and comfort.” She looked at her silver-haired companion. “And what of you, Silver? You have made a good life here for yourself, but is it enough? Do you have what you truly want here?”
“Truthfully? No. I have a few weeks of vacation time, and the schedule for the Center is light after the New Year. I think it’s time I returned to Gotham.”
Blue Velvet looked from one woman to the other, puzzled. “I think there is more here than meets the eye, but I’m not going to pry.” She got up to leave. “I hope to hear from both of you again sometime — to let me know how your travels have gone.” With that, she was gone.
Many hundreds of miles away, a thin blonde man sat behind the wheel of a rented car. “Swapped the truck out in Little Rock, took a bus to St. Louis, then rented these wheels,” said the Trickster. “Two days of driving, and I should be in California. I hear the Frisco area is nice. Wonder what kind of mischief I can stir up there?“