by Martin Maenza
At STAR Labs in Metropolis, a young brunette tried desperately to hold back a taller man in his early thirties with curly brown hair. “Sir, you can’t go in there,” she said.
“Do you have any idea who I am?” the man said. “I’m Dr. Eli Walston, and I am employed by this very facility.”
“I’m sorry, doctor,” the woman said, “but that is a private meeting. Dr. Klyburn told me that it was not to be interrupted under any circumstances.”
“Oh,” Walston said, relaxing slightly and stepping back. “What if there were an emergency? An explosion, perhaps?”
“Well,” the young woman said. “I suppose if it were an emergency…”
“It is!” Walston said as he pushed her aside. She fell against the desk as he grabbed the door knob, turned it, and burst into the room.
Seated around the table were a number of the top scientists for this laboratory. At the head of the table was a tall, red-haired woman in a white lab coat. It was her morning staff meeting that had just been interrupted, and she didn’t look at all too happy about it.
“Walston!” she snapped and quickly made her way around the table.
“Ah, Jenet, you remember me,” he said. “Given you don’t return my calls, I was assuming otherwise.”
The lead scientist reached the man as he finished, grabbed the intruder by the shoulders, and shoved him toward the door. “Outside, now!”
Walston complied with her force, knowing he’d sufficiently gotten her attention. She escorted him out of the conference room and closed the door behind her. What she had to say to this man was not for the ears of her staff. Lowering her voice but not losing the angry edge, Dr. Jenet Klyburn said, “Just what makes you think you’ve got the right to disrupt my meetings?”
“If you’d just give me some time to discuss testing of my microwave research,” Walston started to say.
“Forget it, Walston!” Jenet snapped. “I’ve been telling you for months now that I don’t have time to listen to your theories! (*) Either write it up properly and submit it to the review board, or get out!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Society of Super-Villains: Rank and File, Book 2: Amateur Hour.]
“Perhaps we can discuss it later, after you’ve finished,” Walston said, not giving up.
“Later, I have a flight to Minneapolis to meet with the staff of that facility,” she said. “Now, please leave!” And with that, the red-haired woman returned to the conference room, slammed the door, and locked it from the inside.
A grim look crossed Eli Walston’s face as he turned and stomped off. Big mistake, Jenet, he thought to himself as he made his way down the hall. I was willing to give you one more chance peacefully to discuss my ideas. But now, I think I’ll have to show you them in action.
Instead of heading for the stairwell, Walston instead ducked into one particular office, the one belonging to Jenet Klyburn. He glanced around the cluttered desktop carefully until he eyed what he had been seeking. He picked up a small envelope with a certain logo on the outside and looked at the contents inside. The two-thirty flight, eh? he thought as he eyed the ticket inside. Something tells me your flight’s about to be a bumpy one! He chuckled to himself as he left the building.
A few hours later, at the Metropolis International Airport, a young woman with long red hair and a few freckles twirled the cord of the pay-phone as she talked on it. “Hey, Barbara, its me, Kristin,” she said. “Just wanted to give you a ring to tell you I’m taking your advice.”
A female voice on the other end replied, “What advice was that?”
“You always keep saying I should experience things like everyone else would,” Kristin Wells explained. “So, something came up at work requiring a trip out west to see a colleague there. Instead of getting out there under my own power, I decided to take a commercial flight.”
“I see,” Barbara Gordon said on the other end of the line. “Well, that makes sense. We can’t be all high-profile all the time, can we?”
“Nope,” said Kristin. “Besides, I figure this way I can get a good look at the Grand Canyon while it’s still there. I heard it’s quite beautiful.”
“It sure is,” Barbara started to say. “It… wait a second! What did you mean by ‘while it’s still there’?”
Oops, Kristin thought. Every now and again, she’d slip out something about the future. Things she took as fact when she was teaching ancient history in the year 2865 A.D. were still only probability here. “Nothing to worry about, Barbara,” Kristin reassured her. “It’s not anything that’s supposed to happen in your lifetime.”
Barbara Gordon shook her head. She wondered if she’d ever get used to that trait in her new friend. “Well, enjoy your trip, Kristin,” she said. “I need to get going. Tons of things to do, and not enough hours in the day to do them.”
“Sounds good,” Kristin said. “I’ll send you a postcard.” With that, the Woman of the Future hung up the phone and took a seat to wait for her flight to begin boarding. She still had a good half-hour, so she picked up the fashion magazine that she’d bought earlier and started to thumb through it. She stopped at one outfit. “Ah, good to see this is finally being introduced.”
Eli Walston, wearing a long, buttoned-up raincoat with the collar turned up, stood on the other side of the same bank of phones across from the boarding gate of the flight to Minneapolis. He’d been trailing Jenet Klyburn ever since she left STAR. He wanted to make sure she got to the airport without delays. Gotta make that flight, Jenet, he thought to himself. Your last flight!
With a few minutes to kill, Walston decided to make a call. He fished out a piece of paper with a phone number penciled on it, deposited a number of coins, and dialed the number. It rang two times before someone picked up.
“Hello!” the voice on the other end of the phone said urgently.
“M.M., you sound stressed,” Eli Walston said. He guessed that running a big team of famed super-villains was hard work. It was still morning out in California; maybe it had been a long night for Mirror Master. “It’s me — Eli Walston.”
There was a sound of a deep breath on the other end. “It’s not a good time,” the Reflective Rogue said. “Can I possibly call you back later?”
“No can do,” Walston said as he glanced around. “Just wanted to let you know your tailor friend in Central City hooked me up nicely. (*) I’m about to go have my revenge on one of my former colleagues for her refusal to work with me. Just wanted to call and give you my thanks.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Society of Super-Villains: Funky Business.]
“OK,” Mirror Master said.
“I’ll call you sometime when my business is done,” Walston said. “Perhaps then, maybe we can work together. With the new look and a flashy name, I think it would be a lot of fun.”
“Perhaps,” Mirror Master said absently.
Walston glanced over at the gate and saw Dr. Jenet Klyburn head for the boarding ramp. “Oooh.” Walston’s voice sounded suddenly urgent. “I gotta run now! Bye!” (*) He hung up the phone quickly and darted down the concourse away from the gate.
[(*) Editor’s note: For the other half of this conversation, see Secret Society of Super-Villains: Mirror to the Soul.]
The man needed to find someplace where he could slip into his new costume and gear. Once that was done, it would be time for the destructive debut of the all-new Microwave Man.
Kristin Wells had gotten rather lost in her magazine until the sounds of a commotion got her attention. A number of people were crowding by the large airport windows that overlooked the tarmac. They were talking in frantic tones, pushing for better views, and pointing.
“What’s that about?” the young woman said to herself. Kristin rose from her chair and made her way over to the crowd. There were so many of them that she was having a hard time seeing what was happening outside. “Excuse me, what’s going on out there?”
A young boy turned around. “It’s crazy, lady,” he said. “Some guy in a costume just jumped onto the roof of that plane as it was pulling away from the gate.”
Kristin didn’t need to see or hear any more. Costumed individuals jumping onto planes for no reason couldn’t be good. She darted back to where she was sitting, grabbed her carryon bag, and headed for the nearest ladies’ room.
This was a job for Superwoman.