by Martin Maenza
In a hidden underground installation somewhere in the California mountains, a tall, handsome man with long black hair sat at his metallic desk. The whole office decor was sterile, in precise order, and devoid of any personal touches, much like the man himself.
The man, dressed in a type of battle armor, looked at a computer screen. “Hmmm,” he said aloud as he reviewed the numbers on the screen. A buzz from the doorway interrupted his review. “Come!” he called out.
Only when another man entered the room with boot heels clicking on the metal floor did he turn away from his desk. “Yes?” Manual Cabral asked. “What is it?”
The newcomer, dressed in a gray-blue uniform, snapped at attention and saluted. “The intelligence report you requested, Hazard, sir!” He offered forward a file.
The high-tech mastermind known as Hazard snatched the file. Opening it on his desk, he began to peruse the contents. “What are your findings?” he asked, implying that the man should give an oral report of the findings as well.
“We ran background information on the two suspects, as requested,” the red-haired man began. “We then cross-referenced with recent activities on both suspects.”
“The black man known as Trident had a run-in with the Titans team in New York three years ago. (*) That was the first appearance of that costumed identity. He had not made any other public appearances until January of this year when he was reported to have assisted Shockwave in a battle against the hero Blue Devil. Shockwave is reported to have connections with the 1000. The two criminals left that battle together.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Who Killed Trident?” The New Teen Titans #33 (July, 1983) and Secret Society of Super-Villains: Rank and File, Book 1: Reflections.]
“Any further appearances of the pair?” Hazard asked, still reading.
“No, sir. Shockwave was seen a month later in Metropolis, having interrupted a battle between Superman and a terrorist calling himself Bloodsport. (*) No sign of Trident at that time. No other reports of Trident’s activities until our forces encountered him at Hawkes Industries in April. He was in the company of the dwarf known as Gizmo at that time.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Society of Super-Villains: Rank and File, Book 2: Amateur Hour, Superman: Out for Blood, and Secret Society of Super-Villains: Tech Wars.]
“You have more information on that one, of course,” Hazard said.
“Yes, sir. Mikron O’Jeneus has a more known reputation. The gadgeteer criminal has been seen in the presence of other criminals known as the Fearsome Five: Doctor Light, Mammoth, Shimmer, and Psimon. The group first attacked the same Titans team four years ago and have battled the group a number of times since, with varied line-up changes. Gizmo has also been identified as having run a small supply firm of technology for crime called Gizmos Inc.“
“Recent activity prior to the April incident?” Hazard asked.
“He was observed by one of our informants at the Bar Sinister last November. At the time, Gizmo was seen in the company of Bulldozer and Kong, two members of a group called the Gang. The Gang battled Supergirl in Chicago a few years back and were working for an organization known as the Council.”
“Any other appearances by him or them?”
“No, sir. The only related information that we gathered was regarding one of Gizmo’s former teammates. The woman called Shimmer was apprehended in San Francisco by Dove and a female Green Lantern a few weeks prior to his Bar Sinister appearance. (*) We don’t know if that has any bearing.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Titans West: Girl Talk.]
Hazard pondered for a moment. All these appearances in California by the two men could very well be coincidence, but he wasn’t about to discount any possibilities until proven false. “Thank you, twenty-three,” the master criminal said. “If I have further questions upon review of the data, I will summon you.”
The red-haired man snapped to attention once more, bowed, and exited the room.
Hazard had a lot of data to process.
A few weeks later, on an overcast day in late June, a man in an orange and green costume sat in his wood-paneled office high atop the Loman Building in downtown San Francisco. The criminal known as the Mirror Master was typing away at the keyboard attached to the computer terminal that sat in one corner of the room.
While the machine was busy pulling up some files from the mainframe system in another part of the Sinister Citadel, Mirror Master took a sip of his coffee. He took it with a dash of cream, no sugar. He found, as of late, that he had been drinking more and more of the stuff. It helped him to counter the fatigue he had been feeling due to lack of sleep. His dreams continued to be plagued by the sinister Neron, a constant reminder of the deal Sam Scudder had made with that devil. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Society of Super-Villains: Mirror to the Soul.]
After a few moments, a tone sounded, and the screen was filled with two columns of numbers. With a curious eye, he scanned down the entries. “Mmm…” he said to himself.
Mirror Master put the cup down and traced over a few entries on the screen with his right index finger. He paged down to the next screen and again eyed the numbers. “That’s not right,” he said to himself.
“What’s not right?” a female voice said from behind him, startling him.
Mirror Master spun around in his chair to see a dark-haired woman dressed in pink and purple standing there. Had she been looking over his shoulder silently as he worked? If so, then how long? “Sapphire!” he snapped. “You’re supposed to knock before entering my office!”
The corners of the woman’s mouth upturned slightly. “The door was open,” Star Sapphire said flatly. “I didn’t want to break your concentration.”
“Well, it’s broken now!” he said. “What do you want?”
“Just wanted you to know I’m taking a little trip to Cancun,” the villainess said. “I won’t be reachable should you have need of me.”
Star Sapphire could see that the group’s leader was severely agitated about something. He was always so even tempered, but today he seemed particularly perturbed. She couldn’t let the opportunity pass by without finding out what was disturbing him so.
“Is something wrong, Scudder?” She glanced at the screen. “Looks like a spreadsheet. Things not adding up right?”
Scudder glared at her and then pushed the button to turn off the monitor; the screen went blank. “Not that the financials are any of your concern,” he said, then raised a curious eyebrow. “Unless, of course, you know something about it.”
“About what?” Sapphire said, smiling.
“Don’t play me, Star!” he growled.
“Relax, Scudder,” she said with a laugh. “You know monetary matters don’t concern me. I joined this organization to get my gemstones. You fulfilled your end of the deal by helping me there. (*) I’m just sticking around long enough to keep my end of the bargain. Believe me, if I wanted wealth, I certainly wouldn’t take it from you.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Society of Super-Villains: Reclamation, Book 3: A Clash of Queens.]
Mirror Master pushed his lips together tightly and nodded slowly. Sapphire could be a lot of things, a number of them annoying, but she was a woman of honor. She had no reason to deceive him. But who, then?
As if she were reading his mind, Star Sapphire said, “If I were concerned about missing funds, I’d first look for someone who has the most need and the business background to pull off a little embezzling.” She saw him look up. “Know anyone like that?”
A name came to him. “Flashman!” Mirror Master snapped. He bolted upright and headed for the office door. After Sapphire departed, he locked it behind him.
Soon Mirror Master was practically running down the hall that led to the personal quarters of the organization. Most of them had a place to stay within the upper floors of the building. For some, it was their only place of residence here in San Francisco.
A thin, blond-haired young man and a more muscular brown-haired one pushed against one wall to get out of his way as he hurried past. “Throttle. Blindside.” The reflective rogue barely acknowledged the duo as he rushed by.
“What’s with the boss?” Blindside asked his partner. “He seems awful upset about somethin’.”
“No clue,” Throttle replied. “He definitely looks mad, but not at us. Otherwise, we’d be getting a dressing down right here and now.” He started to grin.
“You say that like you’d like that, Chad.”
“Oh, come on, Ricky. You say that like you think my mind’s always in the gutter.”
“It usually is.” Blindside gave him a wink.
“You got me there, hon. How’s about we go hide out in the steam room while whatever’s going on blows over?”
“Yeah?” Blindside asked.
“Yeah,” Throttle said.
Standing before a full-length mirror, a man in his late thirties with brown hair, a mustache, and a thin beard was humming to himself as he tied a green silk tie. Once done, he brushed the tie flat against the well-pressed white dress shirt, did a little turn, and gave himself a once-over in the looking glass. “Ah, Funky,” he said to himself, “you sure are one handsome devil.” And he gave himself a little wink.
Just then, the door burst open wide. “Flashman! We need to talk now!” Mirror Master exclaimed.
Funky Flashman clasped his hands together and turned around. “Sammy, my boy, you seem excessively excited,” the con man noted. “Maybe you should switch to decaf in the mornings. I hear it’s less annoying to the old nervous system.”
Mirror Master crossed the room in two quick steps and shoved Flashman down hard upon the bed. “I’m in no mood for your little frivolity!”
“Moi making merry?” Flashman asked. “Certainly not at the price of our partnership.”
Mirror Master pulled out a gun-like weapon from his belt holster. It had a little mirror on the top. “We’re not partners, Funky! This is my operation now! I’m in charge, and you’ll do well to remember that! You’re just a guest here, and one who I think has overstayed his welcome!”
“Well,” Flashman said as he slowly raised his hand and pushed the barrel of the weapon to one side. “If it pleases you for me to pack my personal effects and pass out of these portals, you could have just slipped me an eviction notice under the door.”
“Uh-uh,” Mirror Master said, putting the weapon back in place. “Not so fast! You’re not going anywhere until you put back what you’ve swiped!”
Flashman laughed. “This is hardly the Hilton, my friend. I have no intention of taking the towels.”
“I’m serious, Flashman!” Mirror Master said. “Where’s the money?”
“What money?” Funky asked.
Copperhead arrived in the doorway, having heard the two men yelling from his room across the way. Curiously, he decided to check out what was going on. “Yeah, what money?” he chimed in.
“Copperhead!” Mirror Master said. “Keep out of this! This is between me and the con man here.”
“I assure you, Samuel, I do not have any of your money,” Flashman said.
“I don’t buy it!” Mirror Master said. “You aren’t gonna pull the old ‘smoke and mirrors’ on me. You used to run things around here at the Citadel, albeit briefly. You’re familiar with the computer systems and how to access the Swiss Bank accounts. I should have known when you showed up on our doorstep looking for a place to crash that you were also looking at cutting in on the action! Anything to make a quick buck! Isn’t that your motto, Funky?”
“And, again, I assure you that I had nothing to do with your missing money,” Flashman said with a determined look on his face. He rose from the bed and started to cross the floor. Mirror Master kept an aim on him in case the man tried anything rash.
Flashman opened the top dresser drawer and reached inside. A concerned look crossed his face when he realized what he sought was not there. “They’re gone!” he exclaimed.
“What’sss gone?” Copperhead asked.
“Why, my gold cufflinks, of course! Someone in this building is a thief!”
“Well, ain’t that the pot calling the kettle black!” Mirror Master said. “Nice try, Funky!”
“I assure you I am serious!” Flashman said. “Someone has taken my cufflinks, an heirloom passed down from generation to generation in my family. They’re priceless, and they’re gone!”
“If this is a trick to distract me…” Mirror Master started to say.
“It’s not!” Flashman protested.
“Why should I believe you’re telling me the truth?”
“He jussst might be,” Copperhead suggested. “There isss sssomeone around here who likesss ssshiny thingsss.”
Mirror Master and Funky Flashman looked at the serpentine costumed criminal, waiting to hear the answer.