Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 was outside the snowy slopes in front of the Glacier Point Antarctica Prison. He walked slowly up the hill to the holding facility. He could have flown directly to the main entrance, but he had decided to park his skimmer and walk up the slope in order to give him time to study the many hovering sentry orbs that circled around the property like so many red eyes in the sky.
The sentry globes seem to be following their prescribed pattern of orbit, he thought. They not only register the movements of sentient beings on the property, but they are equipped with tranq bolts to sedate any possible troublemakers. This prison only holds criminals who lack any type of superhuman ability. Yet if what I observed on the holo video of Warden Sekia was as accurate as I trust it was, then these globes are more likely being used to keep unwanted people out instead of securing the inmates within!
Brainiac 5 noticed a uniformed guard at the gate, and as he identified himself to the man, the huge gates began to slide open. “Come inside, Legionnaire,” said the guard. “The warden will see you in his office at the center of the complex.”
Staring at him for a moment, Brainiac 5 nodded as he made his way inside. The gate slid closed behind him with a slight hum, and he frowned in concern. I recall that guard from a past review of U.P. crime reports, he thought. His name is Dirk Matax. I was correct in my theory. The inmates have taken over the prison. Well, I intend to take it back!
He knocked at the office door, and as it opened, he entered the ornately decorated room to see a group of thirty men in guard uniforms. Behind Warden Sekia’s desk reclined an older man with a steely gaze and a close-cut hairstyle. “Zoltorus — the former Chief Zoltorus of the Science Police! You’ve been serving time here since we exposed you as the brains behind the old Taurus Gang! I considered you to be one of the possible leaders of this revolt.”
Zoltorus stood up as the guards leveled energy rifles at the Legionnaire. “Very astute. I suppose your computer-like mind allowed you to recognize most of my fellow inmates, even in their new roles as guards of my private domain. That will do you very little good. We have taken over the prison. We’ve traded places with the guards, and we’ve secured the place by using the security system for our own purposes. You won’t be able to signal your pals from here. We’ve blocked all signals. “
Emerging from behind the desk, Zoltorus said, “I was able to resist all forms of mental rehab therapy and conditioning. I knew exactly how to do so from my term as leader of the Science Police. It was not easy, but I managed to teach a few other allies how to block the mental conditioning as well. It took years for us to assemble a large enough force, but we did it. We took the guards by surprise. After all, they were not expecting a violent attack from men and women who had been treated for years in such a manner that they had supposedly lost all criminal instincts.”
“You made one very careless mistake,” said Brainiac 5. “You knew that the Science Police would raid the prison if they failed to receive the regular daily video assurances from Sekia that all was well. You could not force him to participate in a fake one, since his strong principles would force him to choose death before dishonor. “
“You smug punk!” said Zoltorus. “You have figured out our every move thus far. I suppose you already know that we decided to use a few technologically gifted inmates to fabricate a reassuring video message from the now-deceased Sekia in order to keep the Science Police away. We made what you might call a virtual Sekia to speak for us! But still, realizing what we did within moments of being captured by my men does not help you.”
“On the contrary,” said Brainiac 5. “I didn’t come here without taking certain precautions. I knew something was wrong here from the moment I happened to watch one of those fabricated broadcasts. That’s why I came with a few friends!” He raised his head and said, “Security globe override code: Computo!”
At that moment, the hovering security globes changed their preprogrammed pattern of movement and swooped into the facility from all sides. They began to fire their tranquilizer bolts at every one of the now-startled rogues.
“I took the liberty of having Computo take over the security globes’ programming remotely,” said Brainiac 5.
Zoltorus saw his men falling as the globes tirelessly sedated them, one after another. Energy rifle fire bounced off of Brainiac 5’s activated force-field belt, and the Legionnaire stood with his arms crossed in front of his chest and waited patiently.
Before Zoltorus could bring order to the scene or rally his men, other colorful figures entered the picture.
A pretty woman in a green minidress emerged from one of the large pouches on Brainiac 5’s belt and swiftly grew from miniature size to stunning normalcy. Shrinking Violet slugged Zoltorus with a right hook and dropped him to the floor at her feet. “Hiding inside that thing was almost worth it just to do that!” she said with a smile.
Around her, other Legionnaires attacked the crooks with speed and skill. Phantom Girl materialized from beneath the floor and dashed across the room to distract some of the men with her vivacious manner and startling appearance. “You boys better drop your guns. All you can do is hit one another, because your energy bolts just pass right through me!” she said with a smile.
Invisible Kid appeared from out of thin air and disarmed another guard with a quick kick. “She speaks the truth, mon ami!” said the quiet hero from Africa’s Gold Coast.
Finally, a tiny insect changed to a huge tigracat and sent a group of the rattled crooks crashing to the ground. He changed again to reveal his normal Durlan appearance, and Chameleon Boy said, “Let’s get this place back to normal. I’ve got things to do!”
Phantom Girl laughed and said, “Reep’s so eager to get back to Elwinda that he’s become twice as efficient as before!”
“I know!” said Violet. “Still, he’s got a point.”
The last of the inmates was defeated as a handsome youth in red and green flew into the office at super-speed. “I’ve freed the surviving guards,” said Ultra Boy. “It looks like, in spite of Zolotorus’ boasting, Warden Sekia is still alive. I found the poor guy below!”
Zoltorus shook his head as they led him off to a cell. “What gave me away?” he demanded. “How did you know the video of Sekia was a fake?”
Brainiac 5 shook his head. “You don’t need to know all the answers. It will give you something to think about while you serve the rest of your term.”
As the office door closed behind Zoltorus and Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl said, “Just how did you know something was so wrong at the prison?”
Brainiac 5 smiled and said, “Sekia loves rather gaudy jewelry. He usually wears rather ornate amulets or pendants. He was wearing one in the fake holo-video Zoltorus made.”
Phantom Girl frowned. “So what’s the problem?”
“Sekia comes from Rigor 4,” explained Brainiac 5. “Rigorians celebrate a spiritual holiday at this time of the year. They renounce all material things for the period of fasting and mediation. No Rigorian would violate the traditions of the holiday by wearing jewelry during its occurrence. The real Sekia would never have worn his decorations at this time of the year. I knew that, but Zoltorus didn’t. By depicting Sekia in that amulet, he tipped his hand to any reasonably astute eye!”
Back at the Allon home, Janise Pyton and Richard Wayne shared a passionate embrace. The two lovers had long enjoyed a romantic partnership that had grown out of their service together. Before they could react, a third figure entered their room and held a blaster directed at them. “Hova? What’s the meaning of this?” asked a startled Janise. “Is the killer here?”
Fryd Hova nodded. “Aye! The killers are here. The two of you are the killers in question. Janise, you killed me years ago when you rejected me for Wayne! I’ve waited years to pay you all back for the deception. You used me and discarded me. The rest of the senior officers knew about the way you tricked me, and I’ve hated them all ever since then! I learned I’m dying myself, so I vowed to take all of you with me!”
He started to fire the blaster when it changed to a snake and struck his hand. Hova cursed as the snake changed into Yera Allon, then flew out of the room as a bird. Before he could attack her, he was also tackled from behind.
Colossal Boy slammed him to the floor and sprayed him with a vapor from a small pellet. “This is called cancellite,” he said. “It traps a Durlan in the form he is in at the time. You won’t be able to change your form and escape!”
Wynn Allon rushed inside, as did Matt Dayn. “It was Hova! I can’t believe it still!” muttered Dayn.
“I told the truth,” said Hova. “I hated you all, because you all knew Janise was using me. You all laughed behind my back! When I learned I am suffering from Mylian plague, I decided to kill all of my fellow senior crew members before I died!”
“Hova, whatever happened between you and Janise and Richard was a personal matter,” said Wynn. “The rest of us had nothing to do with it. My duties occupied me to the exclusion of any matter of the heart!”
“I’m sorry our actions drove him to kill poor Karl and Hans!” said Wayne.
Janise nodded sadly. “As am I. What I can’t understand is: how did Gim know Hova was both the killer and a Durlan?”
Matt Dayn nodded anxiously. “I served by his side for years. We all did. None of us knew he was a Durlan!”
Yera returned, since the cancellite had evaporated. “I knew he was a Durlan, because he correctly identified my birthing amulet. Those amulets are only known to members of the same tribe on our home planet. Even a man who spent years among the Durlans would not be told such a personal thing. By knowing the meaning of my amulet, Hova exposed himself as a Durlan. I told Gim, and we set this trap for him. We switched his blaster with me last night.”
“I made a careless slip,” said Hova. “I had been safe for years posing as Hova. I took his place one night when he was doing a patrol on Durla. I killed him and took his place. That was so long ago that none of the scanners used today to identify a Durlan were in existence. I stayed in role and served against my own kind. I fell for Janise, and you know the rest. It was easy to be allowed on Earth when I retired, since no one would question an honored Space Fleet officer like me. I stayed on Earth as Hova and never wanted to see any of you again until my illness drove me to take action before I died!”
Gim wrestled the bitter Hova out of the room as Yera remained behind with the others. Wynn stood protectively by her side as Matt Dayn drew closer and lowered his gaze. He was ashamed of his own prejudices, and he was bewildered by everything that had occurred, but he was not ready to change overnight. “Wynn, I think maybe I’ll be going,” said Matt. “You can’t recapture the good old days when they weren’t that good in reality!”
Wynn nodded sadly and said, “Matt, why not stay and talk with us all? Perhaps the past was not like we thought it was, but we could still enjoy the present.”
Matt Dayn nodded slowly and smiled slightly as they headed for the living room. It was the end of a crime, but the start of a new beginning for the old soldiers.