by Starsky Hutch 76 and Doc Quantum
Savant lay elegantly upon her side on the chaise lounge, eating a bowl of grapes. As serene an activity as this might have seemed, her expression was anything but.
“What is it that troubles you this time, my dear Ms. King?” Faust said, stepping out of the shadows, seemingly from nowhere.
“What is it that usually troubles me?” the beautiful blonde teenage girl said with a pout.
“Ah…” he said, “…that. I don’t understand why it’s so important to you.”
“It’s a matter of respect,” she said, raising herself up from the chaise lounge. As she turned to look at him with indignation, her luxurious mane of blonde hair fell over one shoulder. “We deserve it, and they haven’t given it to us.”
“You worry too much about what other people think,” he said, sitting on the chaise lounge next to her.
“Maybe,” she said. “But don’t you think we should have been included when they attacked the JSA? Alexis Luthor isn’t more than a few years older than us, and they had the nerve to say we’re too young? (*) What’s up with that?” She pointed to a bottle of nail polish sitting on a dresser and said sweetly, “Could you be a dear and get that for me?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: JSA Reserves: All This and Earth-Two.]
“Perhaps you’re right,” Faust said as he waved his hand and made the bottle of nail polish float toward her. “But that was several months ago now, and I simply write it off as their loss. And frankly, I have more important things that require my attention than worrying about whether a bunch of decrepit old men will be able to continue putting on garishly outdated costumes so they can commit petty larceny.”
Savant plucked the floating bottle of nail polish out of midair and began applying it to her toenails. She stretched her exquisite legs and leaned over to softly blow on her wet nails. Her actions had Faust’s undivided attention.
“Do I sense a note of bitterness in your voice?” she said, looking over her shoulder at him slyly. “You might want to consider paying less attention to your own activities and more to what’s going on around you. That is… if you ever intend on being a major player.”
Faust looked amused. “Your concern for my well-being is touching, Henrietta. But it’s precisely because I intend on being major player that I spend so much time on my studies. After all, I don’t intend on being the Wizard’s apprentice forever. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if he has anything left to teach me at all.”
“Really?” Savant said. “And to think how you used to sing his praises to anyone who’d listen. Come to think of it, you have been spending more time with Wotan lately.”
“He sees things in ways that the Wizard never even thought of,” Faust said, “especially since he became a Lord of Chaos. His eyes have been opened to the forces that move the cosmos. There’s much he can teach me.”
“I’m very happy for you,” she said. “I hope you won’t mind putting some of your expertise to use.”
“I might be persuaded,” he said, leaning toward her slyly.
“Not those talents,” she said, rising up from the chaise lounge, much to Faust’s consternation. She gathered her long hair together at the crown of her head and pulled it into a ponytail. She then stepped behind an old-fashioned dressing screen to remove her robe.
Faust watched her silhouette admiringly from the other side as she dressed. She’s doing this on purpose, he thought to himself with amusement. She never tires of these games.
“What did you have in mind?” Faust said.
“Something to make them realize just how wrong they were to overlook us,” Savant said, stepping out from behind the screen. She looked at herself in the full-length mirror and adjusted her green minidress with long, flowing sleeves.
“Really?” Faust said. “Sounds ambitious.”
“It is,” she said, placing her headband on her head. It matched the one worn by her brother, Brainwave, minus the goggles. Her dress was a more stylishly cut version of the robe worn by her father, the original Brain Wave. “I propose we form our own team. I mean, we weren’t the only ones overlooked.”
“Surely you aren’t suggesting we take on the JSA ourselves. Technically, even the group Alexis put together didn’t do that. Just the Reserves. Who knows how they would have done against the real thing?”
“Oh, no,” she said. “I’m not that crazy. I know we’re not ready for that. But I think I know a way we can keep from getting in over our head and still prove ourselves. The way we’ll strike our own blow against the JSA,” she said, sitting on the chaise lounge next to him again and crossing her legs, “is by dealing it to the Junior JSA.”
“I like the way you think,” Faust said approvingly.
“Is that all?” she said, batting her eyelashes at him.
“Ah… yes,” he said, clearing his throat. “On to this team of yours. I assume you have a few ideas for possible members?”
“A few,” she said. “Once you see who they are, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the irony.”
“I have a few ideas, too,” he said. A dusty old book from the last century appeared on his lap. “This one will require a little work on our part.”
“Gotham Hall of Records?” she said, reading the title.
“I make a point of knowing everything there is to know of the men and women who run in our circles. I’m sure you’re familiar with the name Cyrus Gold?”
“Of course,” she said. “Old dead guy. Turned into Solomon Grundy thanks to some un-eco-friendly behavior. Everyone knows that.”
The book on Faust’s lap opened by itself, and the pages began to turn on their own volition. “Ah, but were you aware he had a son?” Faust said, pointing to a section in the book.
As Faust and Savant read of the fate of Cyrus Gold and his son in the Gotham Hall of Records, their story seemed to become alive in their minds, as if they had been there to see it all.
What was commonly known is this: Gotham City banker Cyrus Gold was murdered in 1894 in Slaughter Swamp, just outside of Gotham City. He had gone to meet Rachel Rykel, a common prostitute who had told him she was bearing his child, but he refused to pay the blackmail money, despite the scandal that would undoubtedly occur if his wife found out about it. Her male accomplice struck a fatal blow to the back of his head, stealing his money and leaving him for dead. It was said that Cyrus Gold, in his last seconds of life, vowed a curse on his murderers and swore to be revenged.
This was the Green Lantern’s account, in 1944, of what happened next: “Cyrus Gold’s skeleton lay in a bog for fifty years, and an incredible biological miracle took place. On his bones a pseudo-life was built. Bits of rotten wood and leaves built themselves into the monster of Solomon Grundy.” He was discovered and named by a band of prison escapees, and he found an enemy in the Green Lantern. This was all common knowledge.
What was not commonly known was this: Cyrus Gold had a five-year-old son, Alexander, born to him by his wife Linda, who was thirty years his younger. A couple of years after his death, Linda married Bartholomew Olsen, a young shop-owner in Metropolis who was a widower with children of his own. Alexander, now adopted and named Alex Olsen, dimly remembered his real father, but didn’t know what had happened to him.
In 1905, at the age of sixteen, Alex Olsen finally discovered what had happened to his father when he found and read an old account of Cyrus Gold’s unsolved disappearance. He was determined to find and bring his father’s killers to justice.
Returning to Gotham City, Olsen went on an information-gathering quest to find out all that was known about his father. To his dismay, he discovered that his father had been very reclusive and was known as an old miser. Consequently, the man had few friends. The few acquaintances he had did not have very flattering things to tell his only son. His father had been a gambler and was known to have frequented prostitutes in the seedier parts of Gotham City.
Alex Olsen finally met an old whore who called herself Rachel Rykel. By this time, she had none of her original teeth and was constantly in a drunken stupor. Upon learning that he was Gold’s son, she laughed a sick, satisfying laugh, and then wept bitterly. It all came out — her planned blackmail attempt on Cyrus Gold with an accomplice, and the botched theft that ended up in murder. Rather than the hatred he was sure he would feel, which would help him to avenge his father’s death on this pathetic old prostitute, Alex Olsen felt only pity for her. She was already in hell.
Finally getting the name of her accomplice out of her, a petty criminal known as Jem, he found out that his real name Jeremy Woodrue. He had been Rykel’s pimp during the 1890s and had been in and out of prison on minor offenses ever since. Alex Olsen felt no pity for him. He confronted Jem Woodrue, accompanied by three hoods he had hired with the last of his inheritance money.
Woodrue woke up to the sight of four men towering over him in the flophouse he had stayed in that night. “Whu — what’s goin’ on?”
“Wake up, Jem Woodrue,” said a bitter Alex Olsen. “You have an appointment with destiny.”
“Who the hell are you?” shouted Woodrue.
“I’m Alex Olsen. Before I was adopted, my name was Gold. I believe you knew my father, Cyrus.”
Woodrue seemed shocked and was silent for a time. “Cyrus Gold,” he repeated under his breath. “So it’s finally come out, has it?”
Alex Olsen wasn’t prepared for this reaction. He couldn’t come up with anything to say.
“Your father is indeed… dead. Murdered by my hand, I am sorry to say. For the past decade I have lived with this terrible crime on my blood-stained hands.” He paused. “You must be a fine boy to have gotten this far in your quest. Well, I will not deny you your right of vengeance. You must be curious, though, how your father was murdered.”
“I know how my father was murdered,” Alex said, before he caught himself.
“Ah. I see… you must have been talking with Rachel.” Jem Woodrue looked down. He was still undressed. “Uh… well, if you will permit me to dress, I can show you exactly where your father’s body lies.”
Alex studied his enemy’s face. Was there trickery to be found there? Perhaps, but what could he possibly do but try to escape? After all, he had three hired men on his side who could stop him. Finally, Alex said decisively, “All right. Get dressed. We’re going to Slaughter Swamp.”
Hours later, the five men arrived at the place in Slaughter Swamp where Cyrus Gold had been murdered. Alex’s childhood home was nearby but closer to the city, and no one lived there anymore. The swamp’s reputation for bloodshed and murder had seen to that.
Jem Woodrue led Alex and his hired men to the same bog where he had killed Cyrus Gold. “Here it is.”
Feeling suddenly lightheaded and sick to the stomach, Alex asked weakly, “Is my father in there?” He pointed to the center of the bog.
“Aye, he is, lad. I wish I could tell you how sorry I am.”
Alex Olsen turned to Jem Woodrue, a questioning frown on his face. Jem hadn’t sounded very sincere. And indeed, he now held a smirk on his face. “How sorry you are?” Suddenly, to his horror, he realized what was happening when he looked at his three hired men, who each held smirks of their own on their faces as he looked at each one.
“You really should’ve been more careful in your hiring choices, lad. These’re my friends,” he said, indicating the three men, “and besides, after everyone you’ve been talking to all over Gotham, do you really think you’d go unnoticed by your father’s murderer? I’ve had my eye on you since the first day you were here. It was because of me that you found Rachel Rykel so easily. No, don’t look so shocked, she wasn’t in with me on this one. I just knew she would talk once you met her. Don’t worry about her at all anymore. I’ve already taken care of her. Now all that’s left is you.”
Alex’s eyes, wide open in horror during this whole time, closed for a second, just before he turned on his heels and darted away through the swamp, away from the bog. “Run, run, run!” shouted the laughing Jem Woodrue as he and his men fanned out to corner him. This was followed by gunshots and Woodrue’s maniacal laughter.
He continued running, just running. The memories of this swamp from his childhood had become so dim that he couldn’t think of where he was going. He just knew he had to keep on running if he was going to live out the night. He heard more gunshots from behind him and felt something like a kick to his back. Looking downward, he noticed a growing red stain on his shirt — the same shirt that had been his father’s. The last thought in his mind was, How ironic.
Alex Olsen never knew which direction he had been running. But perhaps a small memory had tugged at him, leading him in the direction of his old family home. As it was, he was killed within a hundred yards of his father’s house.
Because of the proximity to the outskirts of Gotham City where Alex had led the criminals, the gunshots that killed him had been heard by nearby hunters. Jem Woodrue and his accomplices were arrested for Alex Olsen’s murder. And once Rachel Rykel’s body was found, Jem was charged for her murder as well. Alex Olsen’s body was ultimately buried in the backyard of Cyrus Gold’s old house, on the outskirts of Slaughter Swamp. And it had lain there ever since.