An hour later in Alan Scott’s apartment, he and Oliver Queen sat at a battered kitchen table. On the table was the radio receiver, two empty beer bottles, and an empty tin of crackers.
“Oh, the luxurious life of the mystery-man, eh?” said Oliver, grinning.
“It’s not much, but I’ve been putting all of my money into a special savings account since the war ended two years ago. I’m hoping to buy a stake in Gotham Broadcasting in a few more years, so it’s worth it to cut my expenses now.” Alan gestured at the two-room flat that he called home. “Most of my spending money goes towards clothes. Even though the listeners can’t see me, they want me to look sharp for my broadcasts.”
“Have to keep up the image, right?” Oliver took another drink from the bottle in his hand. “Still, at least you don’t have to invest a lot in equipment for your role as Green Lantern.”
“I never thought of that. You and that boy of yours must spend a fortune on arrows, not to mention the vehicles!”
“Well, we make most of the arrows ourselves, and the materials aren’t that expensive. And I’d bet it’s nothing compared to what Gotham’s other hero spends.”
Alan smiled. “You mean Batman? Wow, I don’t know who he is, but he’s got to be loaded!”
“I’m rather surprised he hasn’t gotten in on this case. It’s just odd enough, you know?”
Alan leaned back in his chair. “I wondered about that myself. When we were helping the police at the Diamond Exchange, I asked about him. One of them said he’d heard that Batman and Robin are in Europe, teaching some sort of class for detectives.”
“Oh, how things have changed. Remember what it was like when we started doing this? The police shooting at us like we were the criminals, the radio commentators warning about vigilante justice?” Oliver ran a hand through his wavy brown hair. “Just before the All-Star Squadron started up, I actually had some lady yell at me because I was endangering a child. Though I suppose she may have had a point about that, Roy was actually safer on the streets than he was roaming around out on a desolate mesa in the west like he was when I found him.”
Before Alan could respond, the radio on the table came to life.
“–zzckt — like clockwork, even if that green light bulb did show up. Tomorrow night –zzzt — the Wilkinson estate.”
“What about — crkcrkcrkzzzckt — looms?” asked another voice over the wireless.
“–fssssssssss — night, after it closes. If — pop — right, they may nev — kzzk–“
The voice faded out. “They must have been walking past the car,” remarked Oliver.
“That’s the problem with these things. You can’t put enough juice in them to both pick up faint voices and send it over much distance.” Alan lifted the receiver in his hands and turned it over. “Someday, though…”
“So, any idea what they were talking about?” asked Oliver.
“Wilkinson is pretty easy. Chester Wilkinson was the last of the Wilkinson family, one of the founding families of Gotham. He died last month with no heirs. The will is being read on Monday, and they’ve supposedly gathered all of his possessions at his home up in Raleigh Hill.”
“Pretty ritzy neighborhood, I presume?”
“Then we’ll be there. Any idea what the rest of that was about?”
“Looms? Like in weaving?” Alan scratched his head. “I don’t know, I think I’m getting too tired to think about this stuff.”
“Same here. It’s almost three, and I have to be at Gotham Square Garden at nine. I’d better get back to my hotel and get some sleep.” Oliver stood and stretched, once again donning his mask and cap.
“You want a lift back?” asked Alan, lifting his ring hand.
“No, it’s only a few blocks, and I’ve always wanted to do this.” Green Arrow stepped out to the fire escape and aimed his bow up into the night sky. He fired, the arrow trailing a thin silken line behind it. The arrow embedded itself in the soffit of a clock tower a block away. “Not quite as many tall buildings back home, you see. I’ll see you in the morning!” With that he jumped, letting the line take his weight. He swung out away from the building, over the street. Wrapping one wrist around the line, he fitted another arrow in the bow and prepared to launch a line for his next swing.
Alan Scott stood in the window, watching the archer swing away into the night, marveling at the sheer nerve of the man.
The following day was busy for Oliver Queen, as both organizer and speaker at the American Indian exhibition. Throughout the day he heard the rumblings of thunder outside, and at one point the lights flickered as a thunderstorm battered the building. He gave little thought to either the weather or the case he was working on by night, until he was taking a dinner break in a small room normally reserved for game officials. Some of the other staff members were there, listening to the radio.
“This just in. Lightning has struck the Wilkinson estate in Raleigh Hill. Witnesses report that the great mansion is in flames at this hour. Several fire departments have responded in hopes of saving at least some of the works of art and other heirlooms that had been gathered for the reading of Chester Wilkinson’s will next week. The attorneys for the estate have been contacted by the Gotham Fire Department, and we understand that they are rushing to the scene as well.”
The report continued, but Oliver was out of the room and looking for Alan Scott. He found him in the broadcast booth, where he was giving instructions to a matronly woman dressed in silk, pearls, and an obviously fake mink stole.
“That’s all there is to it, Martha — just throw the switch on the relay unit, then turn on the microphone when you’re ready to broadcast.” She nodded happily, and with a flourish was out the door. “What can I do for you, Mr. Queen?”
“Looks like our friends might be early tonight. Report just came in about a fire at the Wilkinson place. They’re blaming lightning, but–”
“But lightning can be used as a cover. Let’s go!”
“Upon me sainted mother’s soul, I’ve never seen a mess like this one,” muttered a portly police officer, looking over the charred remains of a once-stately home. “I heard that there might have been a couple hundred-thousand dollars’ worth of artwork in there, and now poof! It’s gone.”
“Maybe — or maybe not, Sergeant Callahan.” Green Lantern swept the still-smoking remains with a beam of green light. “I’m trying to pick up traces of the oil paints used in the paintings that should be here, and I’m not finding anything. Now, I may not be able to single out that particular fume, but I’m pretty sure the ring could spot it if it’s there.”
“You mean the painting might not have been put in the house yet?”
“No, he means they were stolen.” Callahan turned to see another green-clad figure standing behind him.
“Jesus, Joseph, and Mary! Where were you hiding, Green Arrow?!” exclaimed Callahan.
“Sorry, I was checking the land around the estate. As we expected, there are fresh truck tracks leading out the back service road. Find anything on the cause of the fire?”
“I may have, but I’m having trouble retrieving it.” Green Lantern led the way through the rubble to a point near the steps that indicated the location of the home’s back door. He crouched on one knee and dug in the rubble for a moment. “Got it!”
He stood, holding a charred, wooden arrow. Green Arrow took it, examined it closely, then held it up to his nose. “Kerosene. The arrow was soaked in it.”
“Blast, we missed them!” Green Lantern stood again and looked over the ruin. “What time did the house close up, anyway?”
“Close up?” asked the police sergeant. “The house was closed; the place is supposed to be sealed up until the reading of the will next week.”
The two verdant heroes looked at each other. “Could it be that the heirlooms we heard them talking about were at another site?” asked Green Arrow.
“They mentioned that it would be after closing, and someone might never know…” Green Lantern’s mouth turned upward in a grim smile. “You know, I do have an idea of what they were talking about!”
The final day of the exhibition at Gotham Square Garden was hectic but uneventful. Oliver Queen kept busy, offering two lectures during the day detailing his discovery of some of the material in the exhibit. When the exhibition closed at six o’clock, he was on hand to supervise the packing. With him was a watchful Alan Scott.
“Couldn’t this be packed up in the morning? I’d think you have to pay extra for stevedores on a Sunday evening.”
“You’re right, but these trucks need to be on the road first thing tomorrow morning. The exhibit is scheduled to open in Chicago on Thursday, you see.”
Alan helped out where he could and otherwise kept out of the way. By midnight, everything was packed and ready to be loaded on the trucks in the morning. Shortly after that, the huge exhibit hall lay dark and quiet.
Hours into the new morning, there was the faint sound of something hard striking — and breaking — glass.
“You got any idea how we’ll know which box it is, kid?” asked a rough voice.
“If they label the crates, see if anyone remembered to mark it by tribe. The tribe name is Chickasaw.” Seven men entered the room, all clad in black. They spread out, and there was the sound of splintering wood. Scattered spots of light around the room indicated the presence of flashlights. However, they all paled in comparison to the bright green light that suddenly lit up the exhibition hall.
“That will be enough of that,” said a calm-yet-commanding voice. Above the room, the brightly colored form of Green Lantern floated in the air.
“Oh, no, I’m on to you,” said the same voice that had directed the other crooks. A slim, dark-skinned young man swiftly fitted an arrow to a small bow and let fly. The arrow flew true to its mark, embedding its narrow tip in Green Lantern’s calf. The pain caused his concentration to waver, and the room was plunged again into darkness. The sound of a body hitting the cement floor was unmistakable. It was followed by the twang of a bow firing.
“Yiii!” cried that same voice again, a cry of pain. Again came the sound of an arrow being fired, and the room lit up again. This time, the source was a magnesium flare arrow fired into the ceiling. The intense light showed a new figure in the room up in the mezzanine: Green Arrow.
“A narrow arrow might have been small enough to slip through Green Lantern’s guard, but how do you think you’ll fare against me? I know your weapon of choice better than any man alive.”
“Come on, kid. This is what we brought you into the gang for — take out that Robin Hood imitator!” snarled one of the crooks as they all started to circle around the emerald archer. The young man nocked an arrow and brought it to bear on the heroic bowman, who likewise had an arrow already pointed at the youth.
“Think about it kid: an oaken short bow with a small target-shooting head. Against a longbow of English yew and a flared steel head. What are your chances?”
Nevertheless, the younger man fired. In a blink of an eye, Green Arrow raised his bow and fired. His arrow struck the steel edge of a scoreboard above, banked off to the left and down, stuck a railing, then soared back toward him. Five feet from his chest, the younger man’s arrow was struck down. Green Arrow’s arrow embedded its head into the back of one of the seats, the other arrow still impaled on its shaft.
The young Native American stood there, transfixed at the sight of his shot being brought down in midair. Those who had come with him, however, started running for the doors.
Green Arrow vaulted down from his place in the stands, landing near Green Lantern’s prone body. “Come on, buddy, shake it off!” he said, torn between shaking the other hero to wake him up and the fear that he might be seriously injured.
“Just. A. Second.” Green Lantern’s head came up, followed by his left hand. Beams of verdant light shot out, snaring three of the men who were trying to exit the hall. “Can’t see the others.”
Green Arrow stood and scanned the room. The American Indian boy was standing by one of the crates, apparently absorbed in studying its contents. That left three others. One was running up into the stands. He reached into his quiver to one of several memorized positions and pulled a thick arrow out. He nocked and fired, the arrow exploding on impact in a great gelatinous mass. It struck just in front of the fleeing felon’s feet, which were caught fast in the goo.
For a second he employed a simple, ball-tipped knockout arrow. It struck at the base of the skull of a man who was at one of the doors, dropping him to the floor.
The third man he could hear running between stacks of crates. He pulled an ungainly looking arrow from his quiver, nocked it, then paused for a second. Green Lantern could see the look of concentration on the archer’s face as he calculated trajectories. He aimed low, seemingly at the ground in front of him, and fired.
The arrow streaked low and glided along the floor for many feet. Then it arced up and over the crates, swinging around to enter the aisle between them. A loud thunk, followed by a groan of pain, told Green Arrow that the boomerang arrow had done its job.
Helping Green Lantern to his feet, Green Arrow led the way to where the young Indian stood studying the contents of an opened crate.
“This is all you were after, isn’t it?” asked Green Lantern. In his hand, the young man held a clay jar decorated with pictographs.
“It — it was made by my great-grandfather. Tales have been told of it for many years, and when this show was in Atlanta earlier in the year, there was a picture of this in the paper. My father recognized it. I swore I would return it to the family, and these men offered to help me when I told them my story.”
“Not the best crowd to fall in with. They recognized your skill with the bow and put it to use to steal.” Green Arrow laid a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “What’s your name, son?”
“You would not understand it in my own language. In your tongue, it is Crow In Morning.” Green Arrow smiled at the lad’s presumption. “I — I understand that I must accept punishment from your authorities, though what I have done is right by my laws.”
“I know that. And I promise you I will do what I can to clear your way with the courts, and I think the man running the exhibit will cooperate with getting these items back to your tribe.”
The following morning, Alan Scott and Oliver Queen watched as one crew cleaned up and repacked the portions of the exhibit that had been opened by the criminals, and another crew loaded the still-intact crates onto trucks for the journey to the next city.
“That was a nice thing you did, Oliver, letting that kid go.”
“What can I say? According to their customs, nobody can truly own many of these items; they were tribal property. If I can at least care for them and maybe help them return to their rightful homes, I’m doing some good.” Oliver turned and glanced down. “How’s the leg?”
“Not bad. Slowing it by focusing on the feathers helped, so it really didn’t penetrate all that much. You were right, though; he did realize that his arrows could hurt me. Nice plan, having me fake being put out of action to throw them off.”
“Didn’t look like much of a fake. You really did black out there for a moment, didn’t you?”
“Took the fall too hard. That’s the drawback of relying on glowing energy — in a dark room, it’s too obvious.” Alan pointed as the last of the crates were wheeled out of Gotham Square Garden. “Looks like they’re about ready to roll.”
“I’d best get out there, then.” Oliver turned and shook Alan’s hand. “Been a pleasure working with you.”
“Likewise. We’ll have to do it again soon.”