“I just spoke with the Huntress back at JSA Headquarters,” Midnight said as she reentered the meeting room with Fury and Nuklon, who had just finished securing a slightly unwilling Solomon Grundy. “They’ll be on the lookout for the Injustice Society, but she said something that has me worried.”
Taking a seat next to Patriot, Midnight continued, “She said that Hawkman took the JSA Reserves to Egypt at the behest of a woman by the name of Dr. Jimmi Rock. She’s lost radio contact with them, and none of their signal devices are responding.”
Northwind spoke up, “Then we may be too late. Dr. James Rock died last year, and while his daughter’s name is Jimmi, she took her husband’s name, Richards, many years ago. I fear she may be the same woman I saw at Hall Manor, the same woman who seduced Hector.”
Fury practically leaped out of her chair, restrained once again by Nuklon. “Lyta, don’t–”
“You were at Hall Manor? You knew Hector was there?”
“Calm yourself, Lyta. I will attempt to explain,” began Norda Cantrell.
“It all began in Egypt over five thousand years ago. My man-bird ancestors still dwelt in the Nile valley, and Ibis-headed Thoth was their leader. Thoth warned the Egyptians of the world-curse of his eternal enemy, Seketh, but they would not listen. He left them forever, leading his great flock to what is now called Greenland. There they founded Feithera, and Thoth taught his followers a secret magic that would save the world from a prophesied and all-consuming evil. He then left this planet altogether and has not been seen since.
“Had not Hath-Set, priest of Seketh, misguidedly slain Prince Khufu and Princess Shiera fifteen-hundred years later, the curse would have come true in that distant era. The reincarnations of the slain ones, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, became the center of the foretold tragedy. Though first the Hawks and then the All-Star Squadron defeated Dr. Anton Hastor, the reincarnated Hath-Set, and even his mechanical flying eye, Carter and Shiera hall could not evade their destiny. They would bear the child without a soul.
“I knew of this prophecy before joining Infinity, yet I refused to believe it, until I heard Hector left Lyta for this woman Helene Astor, a very poor attempt at hiding her true identity, at least from those who knew the ancient prophecies.
“I had gone to New Feithera when Hawkman was injured during the Crisis to complete my studies under my grandsire Worla, not knowing that the prophecy was coming to pass. My grandsire told me it was time to return to America, so I did, stopping at Hall Manor along the way. It was there that my worst fears were confirmed. Helene Astor was indeed the reincarnated Hath-Set, her purpose now to serve the Silver Scarab and reign as his queen.”
“Oh, my God…”
The room grew silent.
“All right, Al, get with Pat and see if the new jet is ready,” said the Patriot. “The rest of you get loaded up. We’re headed for Hall Manor.”
As the heroes left, Beth Chapel pulled Rick Tyler aside. “Are you up to this?”
Rick smiled a weak smile at her. “I have to be, don’t I? Hector’s my friend. I can’t let him down.”
“Everyone will understand if you don’t.”
“Damn it, Beth, I didn’t mean to kill him, OK? Just leave me the hell alone.”
And as the new Star-Rocket Racer took off, Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle entered the hangar and approached Pat Dugan, resident mechanical ace and one-time crime-fighting partner of the former Star-Spangled Kid.
“Stripesy!” Libby Lawrence said, smiling at him. “It’s been ages.”
“I’ll say. Damn, Libby, you don’t look any older than the last time I saw you swing a gavel at the old Squadron meetings.”
Johnny Chambers cut in, “Um, Pat, did Jesse get on the Racer with the others?”
Stripesy looked at Johnny and Libby for a moment. His son Mike, an eight-year-old boy, then came out of the shadows and clinged to his leg. “She’s upstairs, Dad.”
“Thanks, Mikey. Be glad she didn’t go, Johnny. I have a feeling that this may be a rough mission for the kids. I just can’t shake the feeling that someone’s going to get hurt… badly.”
The JSA member known as the Huntress was furiously trying to locate the Hawks, to no avail. “Their signal devices aren’t responding, and they don’t answer their radio. Who was that woman they were with? I’m not having any luck here. Maybe I can get one of the other JSAers to locate them for me.”
The Huntress called up the membership rolls and was about to activate Power Girl’s signal device when she heard someone enter the meeting room. “Fate, is that you? Your turn at monitor duty isn’t for–” Then the Huntress slumped over as a ray blast hit her in the back of the head.
From the doorway, a grinning Hath-Set leered at the fallen hero. “Can’t have the rest of the JSA involved in this, and knowing Khufu as I do, he’ll head straight to Hall Manor, since his communications devices are shorted out. And then my revenge can finally be complete.”
Inside, the body of Hector Hall lay prone on a table. He was dressed in ancient Egyptian garb. In the middle of his chest was stuck a crystal dagger. His body was unmoving and lifeless. Standing next to the body was a being of gleaming silver, whose whole body appeared to be some sort of living armor. He stared at the husk that was once Hector Hall.
“I have shed the last vestiges of my humanity. No more shall I be encumbered by petty human weaknesses such as love and friendship. Hector Hall is no more. From today forward, there shall only be the Silver Scarab.”
The Scarab left the room and entered his private chambers. Consulting a mystical orb, he conjured a vision of his beloved, Helene Astor, AKA Hath-Set, flying over the Atlantic with the Eye of Ra, enroute to JSA Headquarters. “When she returns, we shall rid the Earth of all non-believers and form the world anew in my image.”
The orb flickered, and instead of Helene and the Eye, the Scarab saw the Star-Rocket Racer heading toward Hall Manor.
“The game begins, and I shall begin my conquest by slaughtering those who were my friends, starting with foolish young Hippolyta, she who deluded herself into thinking that she loved me.”
“Any luck, Johnny?”
Johnny Chambers returned to the side of his ex-wife, Libby Lawrence, AKA Liberty Belle. “I’m at a loss, Libby. I’ve checked all her usual places. There’s no sign of her.”
Libby took Johnny’s hand, and they slowly strolled the lot. “She’ll be back in her own good time. Remember, she’s got her mother’s temper and her father’s impulsiveness.”
Johnny had to smile at that. “A deadly combination, if I do say so myself. I’ll give you a call and let you know when she gets back.”
Libby stopped walking and turned to face her ex. “Are you trying to get rid of me, Chambers?”
Surprised, Johnny stared at Libby for a moment. “Well, yes. Don’t you have a job or an interview to get off to?”
“Johnny, I’m the most sought-after female news personality in the world next to Barbara Walters. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.”
“I never thought I’d hear you say that. All the years we were married, your career came first.”
“As you can probably tell, a lot’s happened in the past couple of months, Johnny. (*) It’s made me rethink my priorities.” Libby put her arms around Johnny and held him tight. “I’ve missed you.”
Johnny Quick began laughing and was soon doubled over in laughter. His ex-wife Libby seemed none too happy with him.
“What is so funny, Mr. Chambers?”
“Oh, God!” Johnny exclaimed as he wiped from the tears from his eyes. “You had me going for a moment there, Libby. I almost thought you were serious! Us back together? That’s too rich!”
Libby placed her hands on her hips and just stared at her ex for a moment. “I was serious, you moron.”
Johnny did a double take, not sure of what was going on. “You were?”
The skies above Westchester County, New York, approaching Hall Manor:
“Al, land outside the grounds,” said the Patriot. “I don’t feel like taking any chances here when there’s so much at stake.”
“Gotcha, Sly,” said Nuklon, using the nickname for Sylvester Pemberton that Red Arrow had made popular with the team when he joined. “We’re approaching the coordinates now.”
Albert Rothstein deftly piloted the Star-Rocker Racer to a smooth landing outside Hall Manor. Moments later, the Infinitors disembarked.
“What in the name of Aphrodite happened here?”
As the heroes approached the gates of Hall Manor, they couldn’t help but notice the change. A once-elegant house had been boarded up. Paint was peeling, and the metal bars surrounding the estate appeared rusted. The grounds themselves appeared withered and brown, as though the whole complex had been abandoned for decades.
“This is impossible! I know Carter and Shiera haven’t been back to Hall Manor since they returned from New Feithera. They’ve been staying in their townhouse in Gotham, but this is beyond belief,” Sylvester said as they approached the gate. “Northwind, you and Ray do some aerial reconnaissance. Lyta, if you’ll do the honors…”
As Northwind and the Ray took to the skies, Fury effortlessly ripped the front gates off their hinges and tossed them to the side.
Midnight spoke up, “Hector obviously wants us to come up to the house.”
“Let’s not disappoint him, then,” Fury replied with a determined look in her eye.
As the group approached the gate, only a lonely wind howling across the grounds could be heard. They stood at the front door.
“Al, Lyta, open her up.”
Nuklon and Fury easily ripped the front doors off their hinges to reveal what was beneath. “Stone?” they said in unison.
As Fury was about to punch her way through, Northwind landed in her way. “No, Lyta, there is something you must see. Stand back, everyone.”
Flames shot from Northwind’s hands and engulfed Hall Manor. “Norda, since when can you do that?” asked Rick Tyler.
“My grandsire Worla taught me a great many magicks, Rick,” said Norda Cantrell. “Behold the true face of Hall Manor.”
As the flames dissipated, Hall Manor had disappeared. In its place stood revealed a pyramid, the home of the Silver Scarab.
“So now what?”
The question was posed by the Ray as the Infinitors stared at what had been Hall Manor. The flat-topped pyramid appeared to have no entrance or window of any kind. Without answer, Fury approached the structure and let loose with a mighty blow. The pyramid reverberated, but the stone remained unmoved.
“That’s impossible,” the young Amazon said as she looked at her hand and then the pyramid in disbelief.
Northwind placed his hand on Hippolyta’s shoulder and looked into her eyes. “Calm yourself, Lyta Trevor. The magicks involved in this pyramid are great, indeed. Mere physical strength will not save the day.”
Lyta returned Norda’s gaze, her eyes a mix of rage and frustration. “But Hector…”
The Ray suddenly stepped forward. “You know, guys, it could be that Lyta really did make an opening in the pyramid, it’s just that we can’t see it. You remember that old Star Trek episode where Captain Pike was captured by the Talosians, and the Enterprise blew a hole in the side of the mountain, but the Talosians made it look like–”
The Patriot interrupted the young hero, “That’s a good thought, Ray, but unless you have something constructive to add, I don’t think we need a rehash of an old TV show.”
Ray Terrill folded his arms and walked away from the group. “Well, excuse me. I can’t help it if I spent most of my life locked in a dark room with only nuns and TV for company.”
“Syl, over here…”
The Infinitors walked over to the east side of the pyramid, where they found Midnight examining the stones of the structure. Beth Chapel pointed to a large stone in particular. “While you were trying the direct approach, I thought I’d scout out the rest of the pyramid. This one stone here I think is hiding the entrance. I can feel small bursts of air coming from the seams around the stone, and my visor is detecting small variations in heat coming from here.”
“Great job, Beth. Al, Lyta, if you’d do the honors again?” Sylvester asked, gesturing toward the large stone.
Gripping either side, Nuklon and Fury managed to get fingerholds, and then with a great deal of effort the stone pulled free, revealing the entrance to the Silver Scarab’s lair. A smell of dry air and musk wafted out as the two Infinitors tossed the stone aside.
Lyta stepped into the entrance and peered inside. “I can’t see anything. We need to get Ray… hey!” And Fury abruptly vanished.
“Lyta!” Nuklon yelled as he was about to rush inside, when an army of zombies flooded out of the pyramid and rushed the Infinitors.
“Oh, my God! It’s Night of the Living Dead!”
Beth Chapel turned to the Ray as the zombies approached. “Well, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you don’t have what they like to eat.”
“Heh. I know what you mean, I… Hey, wait a minute… was that a crack?” Ray said as he took to the sky and started blasting the undead.