by JSAGL and Starsky Hutch 76
While the other members of Infinity Inc. headed out to enjoy a little Los Angeles night life, Sylvester Pemberton stayed behind, mulling through some papers in his office. As the Star-Spangled Kid, the leader of the team, he was always stuck with the mundane responsibilities that kept not only the team but also Stellar Studios running.
“C’mon, live a little!” Hector Hall had admonished him. “I swear, sometimes you act like you’re as old as my dad!”
Syl shot Hector a look that would have killed him where he stood, had it been a weapon. “I am almost as old as your dad, smart guy! You forget that I was born in the late 1920s.”
Feigning dismay, Hector clutched his hand to his chest. “What’s that, sonny? Speak up, I can’t hear ya!”
Syl took a book and threw it at Hector, barely missing him. “Get out of here before I find some work for you to do. And be gentle with Roy. He’s almost as time-lost as I am!”
“You mean I’m taking out a senior citizen? Damn. Between him and Todd, I won’t be able to have any fun!”
“Well, just don’t let Lyta find out you were going out with someone else!”
“Yeah, whatever. I’ll see you later, boss-man. Don’t forget to put on those Depends before you go to bed!”
Syl turned on the monitor in front of him and punched a few buttons. A list of names appeared on the screen.
“Let’s see. Hector’s out tonight with Todd, Rick, Beth, and Roy, and Albert said he would join them soon. Lyta and Jennie-Lynn are still on Paradise Island. Norda’s in New Feithera with Hawkman. Yolanda hasn’t checked in recently. I’d better give Ted a call and find out where she is. That just leaves me and–”
“A penny for your thoughts?”
Turning around in his chair, Syl saw Hank King, AKA Brainwave Junior, enter the room. “I was just thinking about you! How come you didn’t go out with the rest of the gang?”
Hank plopped himself onto the couch and scratched his head lightly. “I don’t know, really. I guess I just miss Jennie-Lynn too much. After all the craziness that’s happened recently, I’m all about a quiet evening at home.”
“I can understand that. I’m not sure how Hector can be going out, though, what with Lyta away and his dad recovering in New Feithera.”
“We all deal with stress in different ways, Syl. Hector just needs to blow off some steam. So what are you working on so intently?”
Syl handed Hank a paper with a list of names. “Well, I got a call from an old friend earlier — Johnny Quick. Seems his daughter wants to continue on in the family business. They’re coming down tomorrow to talk to me. Between her and Roy joining the team, not to mention the recent additions we’ve had with Rick and Beth, I thought maybe now’s the time to add some strength to our ranks.”
“And you intend on making all these people members?”
“Not necessarily, but I thought we’d set up some interviews and hold auditions.”
“Sounds like a plan. Y’know, with all this planning and changes going on, can I make a suggestion?”
“Of course you can, Hank.”
“Don’t you think it’s about time that you did something about that name of yours?”
Syl looked at Hank with a mixture of surprise and indignation. “And just what’s that supposed to mean?”
Hank, looking a little embarrassed, grinned slightly. “Well, here you are, the leader of a big bad team of rising super-heroes, and you’re still calling yourself a kid. We’re all growing up here. Don’t you think the leader of Infinity Inc. should have a leader’s name?”
“I guess calling myself the Star-Spangled Kid does seem a little silly at my age,” Syl said.
“Especially considering you’re practically a candidate for social security,” Hank joked.
“Jeez, first Hector and now you! I don’t get a break from the old man jokes,” Syl laughed.
“So what are you going to call yourself?” Hank asked.
“I dunno. I have kind of a theme going with the Star-Spangled Kid name. It might be good to keep that theme for publicity reasons. I know — how about Captain America?”
“I think that one’s being used,” Hank said. “But I agree, it should be something patriotic.”
“Patriotic… Patriot…” Syl mused. His eyes suddenly lit up. “That’s a great idea, Hank! Thanks!”
Hank King stared in confusion at his time-displaced uncle, who reached for a pad and began drawing a sketch of a new uniform. He then held up the finished sketch to his nephew. “What do you think?”
“I like it!” Hank said, clearly surprised.
“I don’t know why I let Hector talk me into doing this.”
In a corner of the nightclub, Todd Rice (Obsidian) sat with Beth Chapel (Doctor Midnight) and Roy Harper (Red Arrow). All around them, young bodies danced and writhed, adrift in a sea of hormones, alcohol, and music. Among the masses was their teammate Hector Hall (Silver Scarab).
“I know what you mean, Todd. I’m starting to get a headache,” Beth replied, taking a sip from her drink. This was not normally something she did, but Hector had convinced her that it was all for Roy’s sake. “You doing all right, Roy?”
If Roy had heard Beth speaking to him, he didn’t let on. His eyes were focused on the scantily clad women around him, gyrating and moving in time with the beat. In the 1930s and ’40s when he grew up, things were much different. Outside of a few female super-heroes such as Phantom Lady and Wonder Woman, women would never have dared to dress like this. Roy was starting to like the era in which he found himself now.
Todd was looking out on the dance floor, but his eyes were focused on Hector, who was dancing up a storm with a rather attractive brunette. Lyta had barely been gone a few days, and already Hector was getting cozy with some bimbo on the dance floor. It wasn’t right. Albert would never treat Lyta this way. He ought to get up and give Hec a piece of his mind.
As he was about to do so, Beth tapped on his arm. “Todd, what is that up there? My glasses are picking up an intense light source.”
Todd turned his gaze skyward, looking through the glass ceiling. “I’m not sure. It looks like a shooting star.”
The object started to grow in size very rapidly, when it all of a sudden it dawned on Todd that the object was headed right toward the club. Without a second glance, Todd transformed into Obsidian. “Everybody get down!”
The object impacted with the building, crashing through the ceiling. The patrons started screaming as the building shook and the glass shattered. Many of them thought it was the Big One finally here to claim California. As it hit the floor, the object created a trench until it hit the far wall with a mighty THUD.
Roy and Beth started ushering the partygoers out the emergency exits as Todd and Hector attempted to approach the object, which was glowing with intense brilliance.
“What the hell just happened here, Todd?”
“What’s the problem, Hector? Did your bimbo run away?”
Hector grabbed Todd by the collar. “She is not a bimbo! Her name is Helene, and…” Hector was interrupted by a groan from the object. Could it have been alive?
Using Todd’s shadow power to dampen the light, the two Infinitors cautiously approached the object, and what they saw astounded them — it was a young man about their age, dressed in a white jumpsuit and wearing some kind of black and yellow jacket on top of that.
A voice boomed out behind them, “Get up! This isn’t over! Not by a long shot!”
Suddenly, the whole room flashed in a brilliant light. When it cleared, Obsidian’s shadow was gone. The young man in the strange jacket and helmet was still unconscious on the floor. Obsidian and the Silver Scarab turned to face the man who had yelled, but they found that he was suspended in midair above them.
“He’s unconscious, is he?” the man said. “That boy has been nothing but a disappointment from day one.”
“Just who the hell are you?” Hector said as he took up a defensive posture between the man and the boy lying on the floor. “And what’s going on with this kid?”
The man slowly floated to the ground and smiled with a sort of smugness that infuriated people. “Who I am is not important. Just stand aside and let me take the boy, and we’ll be on our way.”
“No way. You can’t just waltz in here and order us around,” Hector said, his fists blazing with energy.
“Oh, really? You saw how the boy landed here. Who do you think did that? Now get out of my way!”
With that, Hector fired a blast at the man, which promptly went through him and took out a table in the back. Obsidian shifted into full shadow form and engulfed the stranger.
“I’ve got him, Hec. Now to–”
Todd’s mouth dropped open as the man simply walked out of Todd’s shadows as though they weren’t even there. He turned to Todd and Hector.
“Now we’ve seen what effect your powers have on me. Want to make a wager on what mine can do to you? All I want is the boy. I’ve got no argument with you youngsters.”
At that moment, Red Arrow and Doctor Midnight entered the club, in full costume. “Obsidian, Scarab!” called Doctor Midnight. “What in the world is going on in here? And who is that?”
As they approached their comrades, Roy Harper finally got a good look at the man Hector and Todd had been sparring with, and it floored him.
“Happy?!” he cried. “Happy Terrill?”
Roy was about to rush up to Happy, when Hector stuck his arm out. “Wait a minute, Roy. You know this lunatic?”
Todd, having resumed his regular form, stood beside Roy and Beth. “What kind of name is that — Happy? Sounds like something you’d name a dog!”
Happy Terrill looked at Red Arrow for a moment, and recognition crossed his face. “Dear God! Roy? Roy Harper? I thought you’d been killed with Oliver during the Crisis.”
Pushing Hector aside, Roy walked up to Happy Terrill and clasped his hand. To Hector and Todd’s surprise, Roy was able to touch the man. “No, I wasn’t with Oliver when… Hey, wait a minute, I thought you moved to Earth-X with the Freedom Fighters back during World War Two! Last we heard, you guys were helping to rebuild that world. What are you doing here?”
Happy smiled a faint smile. “I could ask the same of you. Last time I saw you was back in ’41 or ’42. You should be as old as those JSA geezers by now.”
Hector walked up to Roy and spun him around. “I hate to break up this nursing home reunion, but who the hell is this guy?”
“Oh, sorry, Hector, this is Happy Terrill, AKA the Ray. He was–”
Hector walked up to Happy, literally in his face. “I know who the Ray is. My dad told me all about the Freedom Fighters. I just want to know what he’s doing here and who that kid is.”
Meeting Hector’s gaze, Happy replied, “What I’m doing here is none of your damn business, and I’d suggest–”
Without warning, Happy was struck in the back by an energy bolt, which sent him sprawling into Hector, and the two of them shot into the far wall. The other Infinitors looked over to see the previously unconscious boy seething with power and very obviously not a happy camper.
“I don’t know who these friends of yours are, Dad,” the young man shouted, “but it’s time we settled this once and for all.”