by Martin Maenza
Mirror Master leaned back in his big leather chair so that he could look out on the San Francisco skyline as the lights twinkled. He took a long, deep drag on his cigar. “My, what a beautiful night,” he said. “Almost picture perfect.”
Though very dimly lit, he could tell when a large, dark shadow fell upon the office window’s reflective surface. “It’s rather cool out, especially at this height,” a gruff, gritty voice said. Mirror Master turned quickly but then relaxed upon seeing the unexpected visitor. The new arrival was a rather large, imposing figure with dark, thick hair covering his entire body.
“Grodd!” Mirror Master said, addressing the gorilla. “I should have known by your voice!” He stood up and removed the cigar from his mouth. “I had heard a rumor that you were killed. Something to do with an explosion in Gorilla City and a human reactor named Rayburn, wasn’t it?” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: The Crimson Fox: Working Girl.]
Grodd frowned slightly and said, “Something like that. The same could be said for you having been killed during the so-called Crisis!” (*) He took a good, deep sniff. “But even with that distinctive cigar odor in the air, your scent is still the same. The nose knows.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Death at the Dawn of Time,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #10 (January, 1986).]
Mirror Master smiled. “Where are my manners? I’d hate to reflect poorly on my upbringing.” He reached for his humidor. “Can I offer you a cigar?”
“Please,” Grodd replied. Mirror Master got out one of his fine Cubans, passing it and a silver lighter to the gorilla. Grodd placed the cigar in his mouth, lit it, and deeply inhaled. “Aahhh! Very good. You always had excellent taste.” He took another good puff. “By the way, before I forget, you need to have a window on the south face repaired.” The reflective rogue looked at him puzzled. “I had to let myself in somehow, you know.”
Mirror Master let out a chuckle as he thought of Grodd scaling the very tall Loman Building to gain entrance to this Sinister Citadel. “No problem. So, what brings you back here? Is there something I can help you with?”
Gorilla Grodd smiled and told his old ally his plans.
The next morning, Mirror Master called a breakfast meeting of the super-villains. The conference table had varying trays of food that Copperhead, Gizmo, and Tattooed Lady were already enjoying when Camille Fortier arrived.
She grabbed a Danish and coffee before taking her seat. “This had better be worth my calling in late to work, Scudder,” Camille grumbled.
Copperhead and Gizmo exchanged glances between bites of scrambled eggs and sausage. “Not much of a morning perssson, isss ssshe?” the serpentine villain whispered. The diminutive man laughed aloud.
Mirror Master stood up and worked his way around the room. “Yes, Camille, I do think this is worthwhile,” he stated. “We have an old colleague who paid me a visit last night. After a long talk, we agreed that it would benefit both parties if he were to work with us again.” He made his way over to the other doors of the conference room. “So, I thought it best that we have a little meeting in part to welcome him.” Mirror Master turned the knobs to the double doors, threw them open dramatically, and then stepped aside.
The large, imposing gorilla entered the room. Copperhead nearly choked on his food at the sight of Gorilla Grodd. Lydia Anastasios, the Tattooed Lady, let out a slight gasp and tried to cover it with her napkin. Gizmo adjusted his goggles and said let out a whistle. “Whee-whoo! In comparison, he makes Mammoth look out of shape!” the dwarf said. Camille remained her usual icy, composed self.
“I think you all recognize Gorilla Grodd,” Mirror Master said. “Grodd, you might not have met Gizmo before. And the other young woman is called the Tattooed Lady.”
Though fully briefed on the current roster, Gorilla Grodd nonetheless scanned the room and made confident eye contact with each person. “A pleasure,” he said in his gruff tone.
Grodd made his way down one side of the table, pulling out a chair toward the end at one side. “Mind if I take this seat, Copperhead?” he asked with a jagged grin.
The serpentine villain merely glared at the newcomer, grabbed his plate, and slipped silently under the table. Copperhead then appeared on the other side in the seat between Lydia and Camille. He continued to scowl in Grodd’s direction but didn’t say a word.
Grodd raised a nostril and sniffed; he didn’t think he had an offensive odor. He certainly wasn’t about to worry himself over whatever was bothering Copperhead. Reaching across the table, the gorilla grabbed a large bowl of fruit and claimed it for himself. He tossed an apple in his mouth and chewed on it whole. After barely swallowing, he looked at Camille and said, “I understand you’ve had a bad run of luck lately, Sapphire.”
Camille rolled her eyes at Grodd and shook her head. She wasn’t about to be baited into something with him. “It’s only temporary,” she replied flatly.
Mirror Master observed the interactions quite closely. By understanding the dynamics of the villains, he could better utilize their strengths and work around their weaknesses.
After a while, he turned to Gizmo. “So, how’s the work coming on those weapons we picked up at the Flash Museum last week?” Mirror Master asked.
“Going quite well,” the dwarf replied. “I have almost all of them back to working order. I’d be glad to give you a demonstration of the progress later today.”
Mirror Master put his hand to the left earpiece of his green mask. “Hold that thought for one second,” he said. Making his way quickly to the computer in the corner of the room, he signed into the system and confirmed the audible alarm he just received.
“Something wrong, Mirror Master?” Tattooed Lady asked.
“Just some results coming in, my dear,” Mirror Master stated. With a few keystrokes from the computer, he was able to bring up an image on the screen at the back of the conference room. The image showed the interior of a living room that was decorated in a contemporary style. Just beyond the French doors that led to the back deck, a beach and the ocean could be seen. Across that room, the television played.
Mirror Master positioned himself to one side of the screen. “Let me set this up quickly,” he said. “A few weeks ago, Copperhead and I were investigating some leads. During that time, I placed one of my special surveillance devices within a mirror of this home. And it appears, with time, we finally have some activity there.”
“Investigating what leads?” Camille asked.
Mirror Master smiled. “Leads that would most indeed interest you, my dear Camille.” Suddenly, on the screen, a female figure stepped into view. She had dark, flowing hair and wore some type of body armor of varying pink tones. As she turned, she faced the hidden camera. On her headpiece was a purple gemstone. “Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that the original Star Sapphire has finally resurfaced.”
Camille bolted from her chair. “Where is she? How close?!” she exclaimed. “We have to get to her now!” Her eyes grew wild at the thought of being this close to the alien power gemstone. It had been too long since she had felt its power at her command, and she hungered for it.
“Camille, be quiet!” Mirror Master snapped. “And listen.”
The original Star Sapphire spoke aloud to herself, and the device relayed that audio to those assembled in San Francisco. “I must find Green Lantern and destroy him! I’ve eliminated two of his usual hangouts so far, yet I am reluctant to try at the Justice League Satellite. I’ll save that for last, just in case he is there but not alone.” She paused for a second and glanced toward the television, which showed the morning news. She listened carefully to Tawny Young’s report. “What’s this? The Green Lanterns have their own Citadel just outside of Encino? Then that is where I shall seek him next!” The woman confidently strode across the room, blasting open the doors with violet energy from the gemstone, and took to the air.
“We’ve got to go after her!” Camille insisted.
Mirror Master nodded. “That was my plan all along, my dear. I agreed to help you get back your power, and I always hold up my end of a bargain.”
“All right, villains, listen up!” Mirror Master barked. “Time is of the essence, so the jet-flier leaves in five minutes!” He first turned to the diminutive inventor. “Gizmo, get the weapons you’ve been working on, as well as the image-makers! Bring it all, and we’ll sort them out on the way!”
“Got it, boss-man!” the dwarf said, saluting. His mini-jetpack kicked in, and he was off to the lab for the supplies.
“Copperhead, get up to the hangar and get the engines warmed up! We’re going to need to be ready to take off as soon as possible!” The reflective rogue had barely finished issuing the order before the serpentine villain was popping up through one of the vents. He disappeared without a single word.
Mirror Master then turned to the females in the room. “Ladies, it’s showtime! Make sure you have the plan down! This may be our one shot at retrieving that gemstone!” Tattooed Lady nodded, though she wasn’t sure she was ready yet.
Camille grabbed the other woman by the hand and pulled her along. “Yes, finally! Come, Lydia!” She could barely contain her enthusiasm over the prospect of having her power once more.
Gorilla Grodd watched with interest. They actually obeyed the orders, like well-trained lap dogs. He chuckled to himself. “I am impressed, Mirror Master,” he said. “I must admit, I was skeptical at first.”
The man in orange and green smiled. “It’s all a matter of motivation, Grodd.” He gestured to the door. “I do hope you are coming with us, as your incredible mental abilities would prove most helpful in this endeavor.”
The large gorilla sauntered toward the doorway. “I will, of course, offer my services to you today, in exchange for your assistance on that future plan we discussed.” Grodd made his way down the corridor toward the elevator.
Everything has its price, Mirror Master thought to himself.
The small jet flier rocketed up and away from the Loman Building and headed south. Inside, the six super-villains prepared for the mission to come.
Gizmo handed two bracelets to the females. “I’ve programmed these image-makers with the specifications that Camille provided me,” he stated. “Any questions about them?”
“Not me,” the Tattooed Lady replied. She was already quite familiar with their operation, having been part of the field test when they robbed the Flash Museum. She believed she would be able to pull off her next role more successfully, provided she could remember the correct pronunciations.
Camille slipped hers onto her wrist and activated it. Suddenly, she appeared dressed in the traditional pink uniform of the Star Sapphire. “It’s been too long,” she muttered as she looked herself over. Just having the right appearance was boosting her confidence again. Once she had the gemstone as well, she would be complete once more.
Mirror Master joined the three in the flier’s midsection. “Gizmo, let me check those other weapons while you look in on Copperhead,” he said.
“Right-o, boss man,” Gizmo replied. He handed Mirror Master a specialized case that held the various weapons belonging to the Rogues Gallery members, and then he moved up to the cockpit.
Copperhead piloted the jet, heading for the coordinates that Mirror Master had specified. He half-nodded as Gizmo plopped down into the seat next to him.
“Hey, snake-man, what’s eating you?” the dwarf asked. “You’ve been quiet ever since that talking ape showed up.”
Copperhead grumbled, then said, “I don’t want to talk about it.” With the jet on autopilot, he was able to glance back briefly.
Beyond the midsection where the trio was sitting, Copperhead could make out that Grodd sat in the back section of the ship alone. The super-gorilla sat very still, his eyes closed tightly. Grodd was obviously focused on something.
Salaak hadn’t expected a physical attack from the woman. Up to this point, Star Sapphire had used only her gemstone’s energy, which he had confidently countered. But now she was fighting like a warrior trained for combat. She slammed his head into the ground, and he felt the arm that she held firmly pull from its socket. “Ooof!” was all he managed to say.
“Where is Hal Jordan?” the woman screamed. Her booted heel was placed firmly in the alien’s back, keeping him down. “Tell me now, and your death will be less painful!” Still Salaak remained silent out of loyalty to his fellow Corps member. “Very well,” Star Sapphire spat. “You leave me no choice!” Her gemstone began to glow.
At that same instant, a strong female voice appeared in her head, which caused her to hesitate. “Star Sapphire, this is Dylia Befir, First Pretoria of the Zamaron guard. I have come to Earth today to speak to you on a matter most urgent. You will meet with me at the following location.”
Star Sapphire’s expression changed from pure anger to slight curiosity. “What? How can this be?” she asked aloud.
The voice in her head responded, “I have little time left. This method of communication will not last much longer, and I must give you the location for our meeting. All your questions will be answered when you arrive.” A clear and concise image of the rendezvous spot appeared in the warrior queen’s mind.
“Very well, then! I shall come to you!” Star Sapphire quickly took to the air and rocketed off into the sky under her own gemstone’s power. Before the Green Lantern could get a shot at her, she was gone.