Showcase: The Crimson Fox: Working Girl, Chapter 3: Free Your Mind

by Libbylawrence

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Halo glanced around the room. There were dozens of gorillas surrounding them, and she couldn’t stop them all. Meanwhile, Rayburn sat sleepy-eyed nearby and gazed adoringly at the teenage blonde.

Looker reeled on her high heels suddenly. Geo-Force steadied her and asked, “What is it, Lia?”

“The woman tried to attack me with some mental power that proved all-too futile,” said Gorilla Grodd pointedly. “You see, I have an advanced brain and psionic gifts. It is these very gifts that allow me to uniquely utilize the power device Goldface found for me at a government lab. I assure you, if he could have used it himself, he would never have turned it over to me.” Goldface looked impassively in his shiny armor.

“I present to you my source of new power,” said Grodd as he held a black ring and demonstrated its power by creating a shadowy, black giant who smashed down a tree and made splinters of its once-majestic form.

“That’s a Green Lantern ring!” said Metamorpho.

“No. To be precise, my pale friend, it is an Anti-Green Lantern Corps ring. But the end result is the same — Grodd rules supreme!

Jimmy Olsen blinked as he noticed for the first time that the man called Argus had vanished. He quickly turned back to Grodd and pretended he didn’t notice the man’s absence.

In fact, the moment that the black ring had filled the room with shadow, Argus had made good his escape. Uniquely gifted with the uncanny power to fade into and out of darkness as well as see on several levels, he had dodged quietly into the darkness, unseen by anyone else. Now what do I do? he wondered. I’m a gangbuster type of guy, but this gang is all too weird! He realized that his time was running out. He could take down some gorillas, but not all of them.

Then he had an idea, and it would work f he could only just get his man to go off alone. He remained in hiding, and among so many flamboyant, costumed humans like Looker, the Crimson Fox, and Metamorpho — who were novelties to the apes — he remained unnoticed. He climbed high above the others and posed gracefully on the beams that held up the high roof.

Gorilla Grodd laughed and waved his ring around. “You see, my captives, this ring was once used by aliens called the Anti-Green Lantern Corps! (*) One member fell to Earth and was immediately taken to a government lab for research. He died from battle wounds, you see, and his ring was of no use to the hapless humans, since it is powered directly by mental energy, not will power. It required a greatly advanced mind to use it. None of them could do so, and only I may do so with ease.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “From Qward With Hate,” Green Lantern #150 (March, 1982).]

“Talk, talk, talk!” said the Crimson Fox. All he does is brag. Men are the same, be they apes or humans, she thought.

“May I take my prize now?” asked Goldface.

Grodd looked scornful and said, “Yes, yes! Go off and indulge yourself, animal!”

Goldface grabbed the Fox and carried her off over his shoulder while the other heroes were pinned inside a black energy bubble created by Grodd’s ring. Vivian d’Aramis allowed Goldface to carry her off in hopes that, once they were alone, she could defeat the armored fiend. If he takes off the armor — and I expect him to — then he’s mine, she thought, smiling inwardly.

They went to his chamber, where he laughed and tossed her onto a plush bed. “I recognized you, babe, from Central City when you wore that little pink number. Now I’m eager to know you much better.”

“That can be arranged,” she purred.

“You’re French, huh?” said Keith Kenyon, the man known as Goldface, as he slipped off his gold armor. “Well, I’ll improve international relations.” He came closer as Vivian half-closed her eyes behind her long eyelashes.

As he climbed near her, she lashed out with both fists. Then she leaped on top of him and clawed furiously across his face. He moaned and tried to fight back, but without his strength-boosting gold armor, Kenyon was no match for the vulpine vixen. “I improve your relations and your face, non?” she said as she slammed his head against the post.

He staggered toward the armor, but in an amazing show of speed and agility, Vivian spun through the air over his head and landed, crouching on her hands and feet between him and his gold armor. He growled and rushed for her, only to be tripped and finally knocked cold by a blow to his head from his heavy gold helmet. She dusted her hands together and said, “The gold standard just dropped!”

Then the door swung open to reveal Argus. “You beat him! That’s amazing,” he said.

“No, that is merely all in a day’s work for this poor working girl,” she said, smiling.

Argus tied up the man called Goldface and slipped on his armor. “Now to free the others,” he said.

***

Meanwhile, Halo found herself on the lap of the radioactive man called Rayburn. Fires flickered in his eyes as he stroked her long blonde hair and said, “Pretty.” She realized he did not want to harm her, but she could not break free. Her powers flickered out at his touch.

“It’s his radiation,” Jimmy Olsen explained. “Rayburn used to be a good scientist named Sam Raybourne, who turned into a rampaging and now almost-mindless radioactive generator. Superman and Firestorm fought him two or three months ago.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Escape from Solitude,” DC Comics Presents #90 (February, 1986).]

“Mr. Raybourne, remember your past,” Halo urged. “Try to remember who you were.”

***

Gorilla Grodd prepared his army for his latest assault on Gorilla City. They followed eagerly, carrying more of the weapons the Goldface gang had used.

Jimmy Olsen kept using his signal watch to summon Superman, but to no avail. They must be screening all frequencies, he mused. I hope Argus got away. I wonder where he is now.

Geo-Force strained to burst the shadowy black bubble that encased him and Metamorpho. “No use,” said Rex Mason.

“I will never quit trying,” said a grim Geo-Force.

Looker was now chained at Grodd’s feet. “I am oddly interested in you, little one. How did you acquire your own mental gifts?” he asked.

He is attracted to me! That time I met his mind did the trick, she mused as she curled up next to the ape. “It’s such a long story. Have you anything to drink?” she asked.

Goldface returned and announced, “The girl was satisfying.”

Bah! You and your petty urges,” sneered Grodd.

At that moment, following a look from Halo, Looker sent a mental bolt to Rayburn, then stopped immediately, since she feared Grodd was sensitive to any use of her powers and would detect a longer use.

Rayburn’s eyes suddenly cleared up. “What am I doing here?”

Shhh! Help us, Dr. Raybourne,” begged the blonde teen as she whispered to the suddenly stable man.

“I will,” he said. “I know myself again.” He stood up and approached Grodd. “I wish you to release these people,” he urged. “The political strife you have with your people is your problem. Let us go now.”

“Goldface! He’s slipped the mental bond I placed upon his addled brain,” roared Grodd. “You did this!” he cried as he tugged on Looker’s chain.

“Darling, little ol’ me with my futile mental gifts?” she said. “Surely not.”

Watching nervously, Jimmy Olsen slammed a vase against an ape’s head and grabbed his blaster. He fired directly at Grodd, who dodged angrily, using his Anti-Green Lantern Corps ring to shoot black spears toward Mr. Action, who in turn dodged behind a startled gorilla, who died on the spot. Gosh! I didn’t mean to endanger the species, thought Jimmy as he fired at the other guards.

Jimmy suddenly had an idea as he saw the bubble that held the heroes. Purposefully running in front of it, he rolled aside just in time as energy flared out at him from several sides, striking and breaking the bubble that was fading as Grodd’s concentration was divided. Metamorpho flew out on silvery wings and dropped over the room in the form of a knockout gas. Carefully avoiding his allies, his narcotic form sedated the talking gorillas and human gang members alike.

“You freed us, Olsen. Nicely done,” offered the stiff Geo-Force.

Jimmy shrugged and said, “It was easy.”

Goldface fired his gun, turning the gorillas to gold. He then doffed his helmet, revealing his true identity of Argus. “All right!” shouted Jimmy as his friend flashed him a thumbs-up sign.

Looker’s chain snapped as Geo-Force ripped it apart. “Thanks, honey. The Princess Leia bit is so overdone,” she said.

Gorilla Grodd, the only gorilla still conscious, blasted Rayburn with his ring’s shadowy energy. The human reactor merely moaned and charged the gorilla as black light raged against radioactive fire. Halo aimed a tractor beam at Grodd and shoved him forward. He was unhurt but distracted, allowing Rayburn to flare up and embrace the ape.

“I’m losing cohesion again, but I’ll take you with me.” He flew off with the shadow energy-covered ape, and in the sky his radioactive body exploded, shaking the base. Neither Grodd nor Rayburn could be seen in its aftermath.

“That poor man,” said a tearful Halo. “He died to save us.”

“Kid, he had become a freak, and he didn’t want to live that way — nobody would,” offered Metamorpho.

“The screening device is down,” said Argus. “I can see that all frequencies of light and sound are now coming in and out. I guess Grodd used them to hide from his countrymen nearby in the city.”

Jimmy looked down at his signal watch and said, “I don’t think I’ll need this anymore, since we took down Grodd and his pals.”

“And these apes are here to arrest the traitors!” said the Crimson Fox as she entered with a group of apes from the hidden city. “Argus gave me directions on how to locate these gentle apes. He saw through their hidden defenses.”

“Thank you all for your services to us,” said an old ape named Solovar. “As friends of Superman and the Flash, you are honored guests. Please, before you return home, let us show you the true hospitality of Gorilla City.”

***

Hours later, the group returned to America using a skimmer built for them by gorilla scientists and dropped the Crimson Fox off at the Stagg Enterprises building. Tramp! thought Looker as the Fox leaped off.

Too much make-up on that one, mused Vivian d’Aramis, glancing back at Looker.

“Well, kid, you got your story,” said Argus.

Jimmy Olsen grinned. “Yes, but to help keep Gorilla City a secret from the rest of the world, I’ll have to leave out the best part.” He glanced down at the captive Keith Kenyon and said, “I’ll just leave out the part where Goldface got the weapons from and let the courts deal with the rest.”

***

At Stagg Enterprises, the Crimson Fox smiled as Simon Stagg raged at her. “You forced me to call in a man I hate — my son-in-law! You still owe me services, or else!”

She sat on his desk, leaned in close, and said, “If I could get to you while mentally controlled and take you out unstopped, then imagine what a girl like me could do if she had real motive and free will,” she said, waving her claws. “I am a working girl no more.”

“Get out!” he roared.

What a way to earn a living, thought Vivian as she left.

The End

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