by Martin Maenza
A few hours later, Lydia Anastasios bolted upright in bed, shaken from a sound sleep by a nightmare. Sweat glistened off her tattooed body. Oh, my! she thought as she put her hand to her chest. Her heart was racing. The thought of that vile Mr. Monroe and what he made me do still haunts me!
A few weeks back, a mysterious man got in touch with her and used blackmail to force her to commit a murder. Out of fear, she agreed to this Mr. Monroe’s one request. But after she killed his target in cold blood, the second time she had ever taken someone’s life, she thought that would be the end of it. Obviously, the action was weighing heavily on her subconscious mind.
Lydia turned on the light on the nightstand next to the bed. Lydia then turned and noticed something.
The other side of the bed was vacant.
A concerned look came over Lydia’s face. I wonder if Sam is up working late again.
She resisted the urge to get out of bed, put on her robe, and head up to his office. She knew that too often he had trouble sleeping and would often retreat to his office to try to distract himself. Lydia didn’t want to disturb him there.
Instead, she picked up a book off the table and started to read. Maybe she could lose herself in a book, enough to calm herself before going back to sleep again.
From one darkened room to the next, Mirror Master moved about easily and undetected. Though the doors remained closed and locked, he had no problem slipping into and out of each room, thanks to the specially designed mirrors he had placed in each of the rooms.
I doubt any of them suspected the dual nature of these looking glasses, he thought as he stood before one and clicked a button his belt. The glass started to shimmer. Then he was able to step through the mirror over the bathroom vanity and disappear into it.
Moments later, he emerged in another of the rooms.
This allows me to search everyone’s quarters to look for clues, he thought, knowing it had to be one of the Society members who used the Joker toxin to kill Kingsley. If he could find either toxin samples or the stolen merchandise, he’d have his betrayer.
Using a small hand mirror that projected light, Mirror Master began to search this next room.
Hundreds of miles away, one muscular male figure dressed head to toe in an indigo costume and a similarly built female dressed head to toe in a red costume slammed their fists into the side wall of a research facility. After the jackhammer approach, the wall crumbled inward. “Yo, we’re in!” Indigo called.
A group of other similarly costumed criminals, each dressed fully in a single color rushed in through the opening. Counting the first two on wall-breaking duty, there were seven in all. “We’re not blind!” a thinner man dressed all in yellow replied. “Besides, who made you in charge, anyway?”
“The sssame could be sssaid about you!” hissed a man dressed in orange.
“Come on, fellas,” an obviously shorter man dressed in green said as he soared overhead with a small jetpack on his back. “We have ta get that spectral analysis device.”
“You’ll get nothing, you thieves!” a voice called out from above.
A male figure dressed in violet was the first to catch a glimpse of the source of the call. “Look!” he said pointing.
“It’s a bunch of talking robots!” the male in blue exclaimed.
Indeed, six figures were rushing toward the criminals. Two were larger in size, one a dull gray, and the other a shiny blue. Above these two obvious powerhouses stretched one in glittering gold, another crimson red with a huge head, and a pair — one male and one female with shiny, silvery surfaces.
“It’s the Metal Men!” shouted the man in yellow.
And the battle began.
Mirror Master had been making good progress through the rooms when he stumbled upon a slight problem.
One of the mirrors did not let out in the bathroom like he expected, but instead inside one of the closets. The hanging clothes surprised him as he passed out of the mirror and tumbled through them.
“Hmmm,” he said, reaching for his light-mirror. “Someone doesn’t seem to be the trusting type.” Glancing at the clothes in the closet, he knew exactly who it was. “Interesting! I should have suspected as much. I wonder what else is hiding around here.”
Carefully, Mirror Master looked about at the shelf above to see what else he could find.
“Abort mission! Abort mission!” Green shouted to his teammates as he rocketed overhead toward the exit.
“I knew this was a stupid idea!” Yellow grumbled as he ran toward the door.
“No one’s going anywhere!” Iron boomed. “Except maybe to jail!” The strong robot formed his body into a giant wall to try to block the opening. “Lead, give me a hand!”
“Uh… right…” the slow-thinking robot replied to his comrade as he changed shape to try to interlock with Iron to form a more solid barrier.
“Forget that!” Indigo said. He turned to the woman in red who had kept by his side the entire time. “Come on, lady!” He wound back his fist, and she followed suit. “Let’s show these suckers how we do it uptown!”
Red nodded, and together the two powerhouses struck the two Metal Men hard. Their combined punch sent the robots reeling.
“T-T-Tina! Stop th-th-them!” the small Tin stuttered as more of the villains ran past.
“I’m on it!” Platinum replied. The robot with cute female features stretched her body into a coiling form about the man in orange. “That’s as far as you go, buddy!”
Orange smiled. “Oh, really?” To the robot’s surprise, the man slid easily through her grasp before she could tighten it. “If you want to act like a sssnake, you ssshould ssstudy them more, sssweetie!” The man laughed as he took off once more.
“Who are these guys?” Mercury balked. “For a bunch of nobodies, they’re certainly givin’ us a run for the money!”
“Quit your complaining,” Gold said as he and the other stretched toward the criminals who were boarding an awaiting jet-flier. “We can’t let them get away empty-handed, whoever they are.”
From the hatchway of the slowly rising jet, two of the figures stood. “Wanna bet?” Blue said. “Hit it, Ricky!”
“Right, Chad!” Violet replied. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash projected from the man.
“Aaa-aah!” Mercury exclaimed.
“Our optical sensors!” Gold cried. “Overloaded!”
“Try this on for size!” Blue said. With a wave of his hand, the blinded robots were suddenly moving forward faster than they planned. They slammed hard into the hull of the jet, then fell helplessly downward. “Nothing like messing with their momentum!”
From inside the jet, Yellow called forth as the illusion of his costume faded to reveal Chronos. “Stop messing around, you two, and sit down! We’re out of here!”
In the cockpit, the costume of Green faded to reveal the dwarf Gizmo. “Punch it, Leon!” he told the man in purple and yellow at the controls.
“We’re gone!” Trident said. The engines kicked into full power, and the jet rocketed into the clouds and out of sight.
Below, the bewildered Metal Men regrouped with their fallen comrades. “Who w-w-were those g-g-guys?” Tin asked.
“No clue,” Gold said, his vision clearing. “It was a good thing, though, that we happened to be here for Doc Magnus.”
When the group arrived back at the Sinister Citadel a couple of hours later, they were all worn and in low spirits.
“Man,” said the brown-haired Blindside. “I’m beat. I could use a long, hot shower right about now.”
“Mind if I join you?” the blond Throttle said.
Chronos frowned at the interchange between the two men. “Are they always like… that?“
“Pretty much,” Trident said.
The eight villains were about to depart the hangar bay when a figure in orange and green met them at the door, arms crossed and looking rather serious. Behind him stood the Tattooed Lady with her bathrobe tied rather tightly.
Gizmo approached the couple. “Uh, we’ve got some bad news, boss,” he started to say. “About the mission…”
Mirror Master put up his hand to the dwarf. “Debriefing can wait!” he said sternly. “Everyone to the conference room, now!” He turned on his heel and took off without another word, leaving the rest of the group confused.
“Lydia, what’s going on?” Gizmo asked.
“I do not know,” she said. “He woke me a few minutes ago and told me to join him down here. Said he needed to speak to everyone as soon as they arrived.”
None of the group liked the sound of this. They headed up to the conference room, whispering among themselves.
Once everyone filed back in and took the seats pretty much as they had occupied earlier that night, Mirror Master took control of the meeting. “All right, all right!” he shouted, pounding the gavel. “Settle down!”
“Ssscudder, what’sss thisss all about?” Copperhead hissed.
“Really!” Chronos said. “First you send us all on some odd job, and then we get ambushed by the Metal Men. Can’t this wait until morning?”
“No, Chronos!” Mirror Master snapped. “It can’t!”
For those who had been in the group for a while now, they were surprised to see Mirror Master this agitated. That was usually a sign that something big was up. The last time he had been this angry was when Grodd had double-crossed them. Some of the more newer members had not seen this side of their leader before.
“I’ll cut right to it!” he continued. “It has come to my attention that one of you has been rather busy of late with outside activities, activities which could jeopardize the very nature of this Secret Society!”
There were glances shooting about the table. A number of folks, those with secrets to hide, tried their best to keep on their best poker face.
Mirror Master started to circle the table behind the seated members. “Many of you were involved in our mission to Qurac, where we recovered samples of the Joker’s infamous toxin. We brought that prize in-house so we could study its properties.
“Obviously, one of you is a quicker study than most!” He clicked a button on a small controller in his hand, projecting a picture of author Alexander Kingsley on the screen at the front of the room. “One of you took some of that toxin and used it to kill this man!”
Many of the criminals glanced about the room to see if they could tell which among them was the killer.
“Why would any of us do that?” Trident piped up, risking the wrath of their boss. He felt confident in doing so. “What would be the motivation?”
“Personal gain, Trident!” Mirror Master answered. “Pure and simple! Something was stolen from Kingsley’s home, something one of you would find of value!”
“Ssso, tell usss, Sssherlock,” Copperhead quipped, “which of usss offed the guy for sssome goodsss?”
“You!” Mirror Master said, pointing his finger directly at the serpentine criminal.
Copperhead was taken aback. “Me?! You can’t be ssseriousss!”
“Deadly serious,” Mirror Master said. “Just like your venom! You know poisons, as well as have a powerful immunity to them. Plus, what was stolen from Kingsley’s home had a serpent motif to it!”
“That’sss crazy!” Copperhead countered, bolting upright in from his chair. “I didn’t do it!”
“You know the rules,” Mirror Master said as he reached under the table and produced a duffel bag. “Here’s your stuff! I collected it from your room! Hit the bricks, traitor!” He threw the bag across the room; Copperhead instinctively caught it.
The snake glanced about the room, then back at Mirror Master. His old friend had an unforgiving look on his face. “You’re making a missstake, Ssscudder!”
“The only mistake I made was trusting you!” Mirror Master said, flinging open the conference room door. “Get out!”
Copperhead glanced about at the others. Most had looks of disbelief. He shook his head. He knew he had been set up, but by who? Which one did it?
He slithered to the door and turned back. Mirror Master, with his back to the room, gave him a wink.
This just confused Copperhead. He was about to speak when he saw Mirror Master glance down at the bag in his hands. There was more to this than met the eye. The snake decided to trust his old colleague; thus he turned and departed the Sinister Citadel without another word.
To Be Continued