The chase through the subway tunnel below New York City was definitely not going in Whiz Kid’s favor. The rocketeer had a decided advantage, even in such a confined space as the subway tunnel, since Whiz Kid had a third rail to worry about, while the flying bandit didn’t. And there was the weaving; this flyer was an expert at it, using the extra weight from the money bags as a ballast of sorts. Whiz Kid didn’t have that advantage.
“You know, I have to admit, I figured I would have lost you by now,” the flyer called out. “Extra points for sticking to it, pal.”
“I try to live up to my dad’s standards,” Whiz Kid replied.
“Same here. That’s all I try to do. Live up to Dad’s expectations and standards.”
“I bet he’s very proud of you,” Whiz Kid replied sarcastically.
“He isn’t. Says I need to get over my Robin Hood complex.”
Those words made Whiz Kid frown and slow down just slightly, enough that he had to wildly dodge an incoming train. When he got his bearings straight, the rocketeer was nowhere to be found. He had lost the trail.
“Well… shucks,” John Garrick muttered. Hopefully the others could keep up the chase above ground.
Exiting the subway, Rory the Rocket wiped off the brow sweat trickling over the goggles. “OK, that was just a little too close for my liking,” the kid said. “Better find a spot to hang low.” At that, Rory began looking around for anything that would fit the bill, but what the flyer spotted wasn’t ideal.
“Oh, come on — gimme a break,” Rory grumbled, heading in the opposite direction of the other three chasing after the bandit. While doing so, Rory caught in the corner of one eye something spectacular: an open window.
The three flying members of the Junior JSA had just about caught up with the mystery flyer, watching as the bandit manage to enter an office building through a window.
“Yeesh!” Air Wave said, shaking her head. “What does he think he’s doing?”
“Trying to lose us,” Star Sapphire responded.
It was agreed by silent vote that Star Sapphire and Air Wave would give chase within, while Superboy would go around to the other side of the building. And what a chase it was, through hallways, down elevator shafts, and into and around offices. The two girls were starting to get dizzy following the young flyer with the rocket boots.
But luck was not with Rory the Rocket. As the kid was about to leave the office building, the rocket boots gave out. That was understandable, since it was always a risk when strapping sixty-year-old pieces of experimental rocketry to your feet. As if to add insult to injury, Rory’s head struck against the windowsill while exiting the building, and the kid quickly began plummeting to the pavement below.
Luckily, however, Superboy managed to catch the falling flyer just in time. When the other two managed to catch up, they noticed that the Boy of Steel was blushing.
“Something wrong, Cal?” asked Amanda Mason, alias Star Sapphire.
Cal Kent, alias Superboy, wore a look of embarrassment, and his cheeks were still burning with a blush. “Oh, man… he’s — a girl.”
That awkward statement stopped the other two. In fact, Air Wave almost lost her concentration and fell out of the sky.
“What?” Star Sapphire asked, once she found her voice.
“He’s… a girl,” Superboy replied. “Simple as that.”
“And you can tell how?”
Superboy gulped and said, “Hello, I’m a Kryptonian…? My tactile sense is so fine that I can tell the difference, thank you very much.”
“All right, I’ll buy that,” Air Wave said, though she wore a suspicious look on her face; he had obviously peeked. “Then what do we do with… her?” she asked, still thinking their foe looked like a teenage boy to her.
“Well, I don’t think we can turn her in,” Superboy stated, his sense of chivalry getting the best of him.
The Junior JSAers didn’t know what had made this girl turn into a flying bandit, and they felt they couldn’t simply turn her in with a clear conscience without finding out the truth. Thus it was that, after the three Junior JSAers returned the stolen money and regrouped with Whiz Kid and brought him up to speed, that the four young heroes returned to the JSA Brownstone and went into one of its many available rooms.
There, Ilyssa Jordan and Amanda Martin did confirmed that this mystery rocketeer was, in fact, a girl.
“Ouch,” said Ilyssa. “I didn’t know you could bind them down that tight.” Unconsciously she brought her hands up to her own chest, as if she could tell how uncomfortable that must be, even though those bindings were over the girl’s underwear.
“Still, she did that to herself, and she committed those robberies without anyone forcing her to, like it or not,” Amanda said, knowing full well that girls were just as capable of criminal behavior as boys. The two teenage girls pulled off the unconscious young woman’s outer clothing, put her into a spare set of clothes kept at the brownstone, and finally placed her in a bed. They had quite a few questions to ask her.
A few hours later, Rory Rokeweitz — or, as the case had just been revealed, Roxanne Rokeweitz — finally awoke. To her own chagrin, she noticed her decided lack of bindings and the fact that she wasn’t sleeping in her own room.
“Awww, crap,” she cursed, getting out of bed and realizing that someone had also dressed her in women’s clothes. “Great. This just keeps getting better and better.” But she had to admit that the person who had dressed her did have some sense of style.
However, when she tried to leave the room, the door was locked — very much locked. “Oh, this is not cool. First they kidnap me, undress me, and then lock me in a room?” said Roxxie, as she liked to call herself when she wasn’t in traditional villain mode. No matter how good their sense of style was, locking her in a room was not good.
She was slightly claustrophobic and a little on edge, which was why, when the door did open, whoever opened it was struck in the face by her fist.
“Ouch!” the unfortunate one groaned. It was John Garrick, alias Whiz Kid. He was a bit more relaxed than normal, which was why he had not dodged the fist at super-speed before it hit him squarely in the nose. Luckily for him, nothing was broken, but it felt like it was.
It was a shock to find out the person who punched him was, in his eyes, a total babe, with a nice, lithe, petite body, like those girls on the swim team at school. But the way he was acting was not how someone usually acted once punched, which was a fact not lost to Roxxie.
“Hey, stop leering at me,” she yelled, adding under her breath, “pervert.”
“Sorry. It’s just that… well, when they said you were a girl, I was thinking typical tomboy, but you aren’t one,” John said, looking at the girl before him. She was tall, with shoulder-length black hair and long legs. Oh, yes, he thought. Nice legs… always a plus.
“You might think being the son of a presidential candidate gives you some advantages, kiddo,” said Roxxie, “but I’m much too old for you.”
“Right,” John replied, looking for the tray he’d sat down before opening the door. “Here, this is for you — dinner.” On the tray was a ham sandwich and a pickle.
“Thanks,” Roxxie said, taking the sandwich.
“Hey, since you’re up, you mind talking to us?” asked John. “We’ve got a lot of questions for you, and… well, we need answers.”
The girl thought about it for a few moments, then said, “I can do that.” And she disappeared into her room, closing the door as she got herself ready.
Fifteen minutes later, she was with the four present teenage members of the Junior JSA, including John. Given his father Jay Garrick’s presidential campaign, it was pretty hard not to recognize John Garrick, even though he was the only one that wasn’t in costume.
“So… ‘Speedy,’ here, says you have some questions to ask me. Is that right?” Roxxie asked.
Given an affirmative answer, she began her tale, beginning by telling them about the tradition begun by her grandfather and father. “I am Rory the Rocket, like my father before me and my grandfather before him,” she concluded. “It is an inheritance not to be proud of, a tradition I want to end.”
“I understand a bit about carrying on a family legacy,” said the blue-and-gold-costumed Air Wave, who had become the new Air Wave last year after discovering her grandfather’s old equipment. (*) “But explain just how you became the new Rory the Rocket, if you actually wanted to end that tradition?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Origins: Air Wave: Making Waves.]
Roxxie sighed and said, “OK, so as I said, there was my grandfather, and then my dad, and there comes me, a girl, and an only child at that. Dad was so geared up to having a son that he was going to put Rory the Third on my birth certificate. Luckily for me, Mom put her foot down — onto his. Either way, I was groomed to be the third Rory the Rocket by my dad. It’s… complicated. This was basically the only time that I got to spend any time with him, so I went along with it, even going so far as to start dressing like a guy. Dad was pretty adamant that I learn how to walk, talk, and act like a man before I even began training to be the new Rory the Rocket, so I didn’t bring shame to the family tradition.”
“That’s… pretty horrible, being forced to be a male, let alone a villain,” said Air Wave.
“Yeah, especially since I never wanted to be a villain in the first place,” the young woman said.
“What did you want to be?” Superboy asked.
“A hero,” Roxxie replied with a blush.
“Well, that’s not too silly,” Air Wave said. “We all wanted to be one. We wouldn’t have been here if we didn’t want to be. Still, none of us were forced to be villains, either.”
“Yeah, which means it’ll be just that much harder for me,” Roxxie said.
“Well, you could be your own hero,” suggested Star Sapphire.
“Yeah,” agreed Air Wave. “Use the same schtick and all–”
“But as a hero instead of a villain,” added Whiz Kid.
“Do the family name proud for once,” concluded Superboy.
Once it was unanimously agreed, the four young heroes began to help the twenty-year-old Miss Rokeweitz to create a new identity. The final result ended up being a yellow leotard with a rocket emblem on it and a pair of flight goggles. They were, as Roxxie put it, very stylish. She found herself posing in front of a mirror, checking herself out in her new costume, which was far more comfortable than the Rory the Rocket outfit with all its bindings that hid her true gender. “All that’s missing are the boots,” she said.
“Well, speaking of those boots, they’re pretty old — and dangerous,” said Air Wave. “They cut out, and do all sorts of odd things. You almost got killed when you wore them, don’t forget.”
Roxxie began to sigh, watching her dream of heroism start to fade away again.
“However!” Air Wave added after a dramatic pause. “John’s spent the last hour studying a rocketry book and the boots, and with his super-speed, he was able to construct these out of the lab and test them to make sure they’re as safe as possible.” At that, Air Wave handed Roxxie a pair of knee-high, futuristic-looking red and yellow boots.
“He made those? For me?” Roxxie said. “Wow… maybe I should use my looks more often.”
“Yeah. He’s crushin’ pretty hard, I think. Don’t tell him I said this, but I think he has a thing for bad girls,” said Air Wave. “But it’ll pass.”
“Hopefully,” Roxxie agreed.
With that, Roxxie Rokeweitz bid the Junior JSA farewell and headed back home to Los Angeles.
There, she explained to her dad that she no longer wanted to be a villain. That didn’t go so well, but after a heated argument, she eventually convinced him that it was for the best. The alternative was that she would eventually be caught and spend twenty years in stir just like her father and grandfather had before her. So, with some of the loot hidden away from her father and grandfather’s robberies decades ago, she could set up shop in a city of her own.
After looking over a few choice cities, she ended up picking Chicago, and wasted no time in moving there.
In a few short months she settled into a new routine. By day she was Roxanne Rokeweitz, a physics student at Chicago State University. By night she was Roxy Rocket, a high-flying super-heroine who righted wrongs and stopped crime in the windy city.
She loved every minute of it.