Shrapnel came upon the beach house the Teen Titans used as their current headquarters and spotted two men struggling to put three heavy-looking bundles into the back of a pickup truck. Thoughtfully, he offered to help, and they gratefully accepted.
Afterward, he asked them, “You seen a golden brown woman wearing animal skins around here?”
They looked at each other, then one of them suddenly smiled and said, “Yeah, she was down at the soda stand with some teenagers. There was a red-haired kid with freckles, a drop-dead-gorgeous, raven-haired gal, a pretty, sweet-looking blond, some kid with greasy black hair, and a goofy-looking kid with a funny hat.”
“Hmm. Could be the kids we was looking for,” Shrapnel said, and thought for a moment. “What soda stand?”
“Uh… Pop Tates. Yeah, that’s it — Pop Tates. Can’t miss it. Big place.”
“OK, thanks,” Shrapnel said with a wave and started walking off.
“Whew! That was close. Wonder who he is.”
“Don’t know, don’t care. Hey, you feel a breeze?”
“Nah, but come on. Let’s get outta here.”
At that moment, Kid Flash arrived back at the Teen Titans Clubhouse and shouted, “Hey, gang! I’m back, and we’ve got a dinner invitation!” Then he was struck by the silence. “What th–?!”
That was when he noticed the form of the Tigress, crumpled on the floor. He went to check on this stranger, not knowing that her body had already begun its healing process, and he was surprised to find his face clutched in her hand, claws digging into his flesh. Kid Flash felt the pressure of the Tigress’ strength and fought to retain consciousness.
At Pop Tate’s Choklit Shoppe, Shrapnel noted a handsome blonde teenage boy talking to a cute-but-chubby and glasses-wearing brunette and a to-die-for redhead. At the counter, a tall, scraggly boy and an oversized dog were ordering their treats.
“–complete with chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, and strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, hot mustard sauce, maraschino cherries, pickles… oh, and some peanut butter and hot sauce.”
“Rah! Rot rauce!” said the dog, whose collar had the letters S.D. on it.
The man behind the counter was himself not much older than his customers. He did a double take at the order and asked, “You stoned or something?”
Two pairs of red eyes glared at him.
“Like, what do you mean by that?”
“Rah? Rhat roo rou rean ry rhat?”
The counter man shrugged and turned to fix the order.
Shrapnel shook his head. This couldn’t be the right place, unless the Tigress and the others had come and gone already. He’d have to ask at the counter, and while he was there, he might as well get a milkshake.
The big man known as Shrapnel looked around the soda shop, then made a decision. “Youse kids the Teen Titans?” he asked, proud of himself for thinking of asking that insightful question.
All present stared at him, and suddenly he felt uncomfortable.
At a major hotel not too far away, the Tigress presented her employer with the unconscious body of Kid Flash. “The others’ current location is unknown to me, sir. You seem to have a competitor after these youths.”
Mr. S snarled. “Morons! I am continuously surrounded by morons! To think I once ran vast empires and now am the manager of a three-star hotel with the sole goal of making it to four stars, maybe five in a couple of years!” Calming himself down, he added, “At least you, my little kitten, are competent. And speaking of competency, or lack thereof, did you encounter Shrapnel, by any chance?”
The Tigress shrugged. “No. Not today, at least.”
“We’re Mystery Inc. I’m Fred, this is Daphne and Velma. Over there is Shaggy and Scooby-Doo,” the handsome blond youth said to Shrapnel. “We solve mysteries!”
“Well, good, because I got a mystery problem,” Shrapnel said. “My boss wants me to find the Teen Titans, and I can’t no how.”
“Right…” began Fred. “And, why, exactly, are you supposed to find them?”
Meanwhile, at another nearby location, a sinister figure was sinisterly gloating over his sinister plans of sinister proportion, which included sinisterly altering the identities of the three amnesiac young heroes his men had brought him, their amnesia part of a sinister plot of sinister proportions, for such was the sinister way of this man of sinister mindset. It was all very sinister.
Kid Flash regained consciousness to find himself strapped and blindfolded. He tried to vibrate out of his binds but couldn’t.
“Ah, now to test out this mind-conversion machine I bought from Luthor,” said Mr. S. “Tigress, will you hit the start button, please?”
“Yes, Mr. S.” The Tigress turned and pushed a red button, the machine hummed, then suddenly sparks flew out, and smoke poured from the machine.
“Morons! I am surrounded by morons!” Mr. S said, flinging his long black hair out of his face just as his intercom buzzed. “What?” he growled into it.
“Sir, power is out all over the hotel. Something blew out the generators, sir.”
“Get me engineering.”
He waited, impatiently glowering at the Tigress in the meantime, while she licked her right hand and smiled at him.
“Scotty, what happened to my power?”
“Something blew the fuses. Me wee bairns just stopped running, sair!”
“Can you fix it?”
“We’re trying, sir. We’re giving it all we’ve got!”
“OK, well, quickly, man — quickly!”
Another voice came on. “More power! Auh-auh-auh!”
“Scotty, who was that?”
“The electrician, Tim Taylor.”
“But everyone calls me the Tool-Man!”
“Ye call yerself the Tool-Man, Taylor!”
“Well, tell him yes, ‘more power,’ or he’s fired!” Mr. S turned off the intercom then. “Morons! I am surrounded by… Wait — turn up the sound on the TV!”
“Jack Yubetcha here with this news bulletin. Three previously unknown super-villains just robbed the Danville train. I swear I ain’t lying! They have identified themselves as Sea Dragon, Femizon, and the Red Archer. This is Jack Yubetcha saying: ‘film at eleven’!”
“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Kid Flash asked Mr. S.
“Yes, it is. Yes, indeed, and — hey, how did you–?”
“Oh, one of the straps was loose, so I let myself out,” said Kid Flash. “Now, will you surrender peacefully, or will I have to tie you up like I did Miss Kitty?”
Mr. S looked around, saw his feline assistant tied up in a massive ball of yarn, and sighed heavily. “Morons! I am surrounded by morons!”
That was when a wall decided to collapse, or perhaps it should be said that someone decided to knock the wall down.
Glenville was a small town with a noted tourist attraction, a train that ran from this beautiful community to Danville and back. The train ride was considered by many to be a wonderful experience through some incredible natural scenery.
But all was not happy in Glenville, as somebody had robbed the train — three somebodies, in fact. They had robbed it just outside of Danville and were right now helping themselves to the money in the Glenville Bank. These dastardly villains were the green-clad Sea Dragon, the armor-wearing Femizon, and the Red Archer, whose Robin Hood-like red outfit struck some people as reminiscent of Speedy of the Teen Titans, except for the red hood he wore over his face. Indeed, all three of these new villains were masked.
This in and of itself could have been a serious problem, but it was made worse by the fact that between the trick arrows and the Femizon’s golden lasso, the local police department had been disabled. Their vehicles had been piled atop one another, and the officers were not only disarmed but unconscious.
While all this was going on, the juvenile speedster known as Kid Flash was confronting one of the villains of this story after having just caused one wall to crumble. “Tell me why I shouldn’t take you in right now!”
“Well, if my memory re-arranger machine can actually be made to work right, then your friends — if that’s who these new villains are — can be restored to normal.”
“Why do you think they’ve been altered, Mr. S?”
“Luthor had two of these devices for sale. I bought one, but I don’t know who bought the other. And just before you got out, I saw the directions to this machine, and this one is the memory restorer, so it wouldn’t have worked on you, anyway.”
Kid Flash considered the information. “Why was Luthor selling this stuff, anyway?”
“I don’t know! Something about needing money to buy instruments, I think.”
“Instruments of torture?“
“No! Musical instruments! I tell you, speed-boy, Luthor has recently developed an interest in rock and or roll music, according to underworld rumors.”
Kid Flash looked puzzled. “Rock and or roll?”
“Little joke!” Mr. S said. “Say, did you know I knew Elvis?”
Kid Flash silently debated how this was relevant.
“Yes!” said Mr. S. “I remember when rock was young. Me and Suzi–” He indicated the Tigress. “–had so much fun.”
The Tigress joined in. “When other kids were rockin’ round the clock, we were hopping and bopping to the crocodile rock.”
Rolling his eyes, Kid Flash swiftly tied Mr. S to a heavy-duty desk. “I’m going after my friends. Wait here.”
Mr. S looked around. “Like, where could I go?”
In a dark and sinister laboratory, a dark and sinister laboratory assistant second class was sweeping the floor and chuckling sinisterly over his plans to rise to laboratory assistant first class, and then he would have the confidence of his employer and prove his worth. It would only take five years, maybe eight with vacation time if he took it, and all it took was faithfully performing his duties and continually cleaning the equipment here in the lab, as well as always showing devotion to his master. This meant carefully observing how his master’s laboratory assistant first class did it, and then, oh, yes, observe how the laboratory assistant first class treated the converted ones before and after the conversions, for that would be important.
Of course, this meant that he kept detailed notes on every detail of the operation his employer ran, including supplier information and prices, as he often had to make the purchase arrangements and pickups. He wanted to be sure his service to the doctor was noted in depth, as well as the laboratory assistant first class and anyone else who was involved with the doctor.
These notes also served to help him in the course of his duties. He often needed to check his notes to see what he was supposed to be doing, of course, but in the back of his mind was the distant idea of writing a tell-all book when he retired. Or if he was ever fired, then the book would be his side of the story. So, to keep it pure of outside influences, he never said a word about his notes or his plans to anyone.
He reflected calmly on this while doing the laundry, which included the costumes of Aqualad, Speedy, and Wonder Girl, even if they were now calling themselves Sea Dragon, the Femizon, and the Red Archer and wore different costumes.
Laboratory assistant second class Melvin Throckmorton was an awkward-looking, bespectacled young man with plans. In time he would strike back at all of those who had mocked him growing up, all of those who called him mad, cracked, and crazy, and who made fun of his first name and his thick glasses. This laboratory assistant second class was proud of the fact that it was the doctor himself who had spotted Throckmorton working in the Super-Hero Museum, where the doctor had gone to snarl at pictures of his old enemies, the Inferior Five. The doctor felt an affinity with this then-third-class assistant, who had been most helpful in locating the tiny back corner section devoted to the accomplishments of this band of vigilantes: Merryman, Dumb Bunny, Awkwardman, White Feather, and the Blimp.
The fact that Melvin was similar in appearance to the doctor, only somewhat younger, was not lost on the doctor, who felt that this could prove to be useful someday. The physical likenesses the doctor alleged were not seen by the laboratory assistant first class Hermes, but if the doctor wanted to believe it, then that was useful to note.
What none of these geniuses knew was that Shrapnel, the hot-tempered, steel-plated, dimwitted employee of a major three-star hotel manager (who was also a one-time master super-villain who had, in his time, lost to some of the best in the business) had an unusual ability: he could memorize at a glance any licence plate. He mentioned the licence plate number of the van he had placed some rolled-up carpets in to someone who knew someone at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and she knew someone who seemed to know someone in just about every town who could give him directions for a fee, and thus it was that Shrapnel, accompanied by the brave members of Mystery Inc., including Scooby-Doo, were en route to the very hidden lab Melvin was doing the laundry in.
Meanwhile, the former Teen Titans were heading back to the very same laboratory with their most recent prizes from their visit to the bank.
Elsewhere, Kid Flash was en route to that bank to interview witnesses, confident he could find the trail of the thieves after he determined more information about Sea Dragon, the Femizon, and the Red Archer as compared with the Teen Titans he knew.