The next day an elegant limousine pulled up to the grounds of Fairhaven Academy. A stylish blonde woman entered and made her needs known to the receptionist in the main office.
“Good afternoon. I’m Karen Ellis,” she said as she smiled broadly at the headmaster. “We spoke on the phone about my daughter Mary. She is eager to begin and is waiting in the car. I trust the check will be enough to make up for any problems you might have with an enrolment so late in the school year? She left her last school under rather hurried circumstances, and her father and I do want to see her placed safely before we depart for our cruise.”
The headmaster was a bald man with a ruddy complexion. He introduced himself as Carl Kurtz, and he eyed the shapely blonde in her fancy fur and revealing outfit as she sat before his desk. She’s just some cheap hussy who picked up an older wealthy man and wants to dump their brat so they can enjoy the good life, he mused. All the better for our needs. “Mrs. Ellis, Mary will be very well taken care of here,” he said, speaking with a slight German accent. “I promise you that.”
The disguised Power Girl smiled alluringly. “I just know I can count on you, sugah!” She exited the building and climbed into the limo, where Alfred Beagle sat at the wheel.
“Did your act work, miss?” he said. “You have a promising talent for the theater!”
She smiled and said, “Alfred, sugah, he ate up my Southern tramp act like grits on a platter! Now, let’s hope my second role is as convincing.”
Closing the darkened window that separated the back of the limo from the front seat, she drank the liquid she had created yesterday and waited. Minutes later, after a super-fast change of clothing, she exited the limo with a small suitcase and made her way to the admission’s hall.
Mr. Kurtz looked up and greeted her warmly. “You must be Mary Ellis,” he said. “I am Headmaster Kurtz. You have your mother’s beauty. I hope you will like it here at Fairhaven. We pride ourselves on having a modern facility with elements of old-world tradition and culture. The majority of the curriculum is presented via closed-circuit monitors. This allows us to incorporate the finest minds from around the nation along with our on-campus faculty. All of our efforts are designed to provide a fine education for the young ladies who come here.”
The now-fourteen-year-old Power Girl smiled in greeting and said, “So, where’s my dorm?”
“I’ve asked Marlene to show you to your dorm,” he said. “She is one of your dorm mates, and she will be happy to show you how we do things in the Fairhaven manner.” He gestured to where a pretty, black-haired teenager waited. She wore the red and black blazer and short plaid skirt that was the school uniform.
“Hi, I’m Marlene,” she said. “I hope you’ll like it here. It’s not so bad!”
Kara Zor-L smiled at this underwhelming endorsement and said, “Cool. I’m Mary.”
Marlene led the transformed Power Girl to a spacious building with ivy and well-tended trees and flowers around the ornate structure. “This is our dorm,” she said. “It is a gloomy old place, but then all the money goes into the computers and the grounds. That’s what attracts parents and potential investors.”
“Cynical, aren’t you?” said Kara. “I expected to find a bunch of snobs full of rah-rah spirit!”
Marlene laughed. “And you don’t seem like the stuck-up rich brat I expected when I saw that limo. I’m here on scholarship, so I get a lot of grief from those kids who paid full tuition.”
Kara glanced around her and saw several girls all in the same uniform but with very different expressions on their young faces. Some seemed friendly, while others seemed decidedly hostile. Let’s see: Half of them see me as a would-be rival in some manner, and half think I’m their ticket to the upper levels of the rich and famous, mused Kara. Now, what I really want is to run into some who want me to join in some crime spree. I am certain Lucy’s impulsive crime was triggered by more than just peer pressure and a bad crowd.
Marlene opened a door and revealed a neat room with three beds and a few colorful posters on the cork bulletin boards. “This is your bed,” she explained. “You can put pictures and junk on that board. We’re not allowed to pin anything on the actual walls.”
Kara saw a colorful band with heavy makeup and puffy hair. “Those girls are kinda butch!” she said.
Marlene rolled her eyes. “You are joking. Those boys are Flock of Seagulls! Don’t you get MTV?”
Kara smiled lamely. “Sure. I was just trying to be funny!”
A third girl sat up on the corner bed and ran one hand through her heavily gelled hair. “I’m Debbi, with an ‘i.’ I have a weird sense of humor, too. Maybe we’ll be, like, totally soul mates!” she gushed.
Kara sighed as she realized how out of touch she was with modern teen culture. I’d better hope I can solve this mystery quickly. I thought Yellow Peri and the Preserver were tough foes, but they don’t compare to the scorn of trendy teen girls who think I’m a nerd!
It did not take Kara long to get to the heart of the mystery behind the orderly façade of academic excellence. The blonde teen now wore the traditional plaid skirt and blazer. She sat in front of one of the many monitors while a woman droned on about the works of Ovid. Around Kara sat a dozen other pupils. She crossed her legs and frowned in concern. All appeared to be proper, if dull. However, to her super-senses, all was not what it appeared to be.
Great Krypton! she thought. During all of these broadcast lessons there are subliminal messages. My super-fast senses allow me to see them clearly, while they merely register on the other girls subconsciously. They are being urged to obey commands and listen to the wisdom of the headmaster! Not so subtle suggestions that they follow his lead and devote their futures to him are flashing across the screen with every lesson. Kurtz is brainwashing this whole school of wealthy and/or brilliant girls. They will grow up, inherit fortunes, or get important jobs, and in all they do, they will serve his needs! She gasped as the realization struck her.
Luckily, I used my hypnosis to give myself immunity to any type of mental domination prior to coming here, she thought. It will wear off in a few days, but that gives me plenty of time to shut down the scheme. Still, why would he have the girls pull a cheap robbery like the one Lucy was involved in? It attracted attention to the place, and at best could only have brought in a few hundred dollars, had they got away with it! Something fishy is going on here in addition to the obvious.
That night the girl known as Mary Ellis slipped out of bed and made her way to the office of the headmaster. She knew it was empty due to a scan with her x-ray vision. She twisted the locked door open with her super-strength and entered the plush office.
“This is where I expected to find the answers I needed. Still, all appears normal, except for that lead-lined secret door,” she said with a smile. He might as well paint it with day-glow colors since, to my super-senses, a secret door — even one with lead in it — stands out like the proverbial sore thumb! she mused. Still, I’ll have to open it to see what is inside. Lead does block my vision.
She pulled open the hidden door and saw a complex lab with a wall lined with computers. “These gadgets create the subliminal messages that brainwash the girls. I’ll smash them now!” she said, crushing them to pulp even as Kurtz rushed inside, having been summoned by a hidden silent alarm.
“You fool! I don’t know what you are, but destroying the equipment won’t help you,” he said. “Didn’t you expect me to have hidden alarms within my little chamber?”
Kara smiled and lifted him off the ground with one finger. “Guess what, Kurtz? I didn’t care about your precious alarms, since I welcome the chance to bounce you off the walls of your playroom, like so!” she said.
He struggled helplessly in her grip. “You are a mystery-woman! You are no ordinary girl!” he said, terrified at being overpowered by this teenager.
She shook him and said, “See? I knew there was a reason they made you headmaster! It’s your staggering grasp of the obvious! Now, out with it! Tell me your story, or you’ll make me really mad!”
“I was part of a group during the war,” he explained. “We called ourselves the Aryan Youth. We wanted to serve the Third Reich and lead other young people to do so as well through subliminal influence. (*) I adopted such science for my own gain here in the States under the new identity of Carl Kurtz. The wealthy kinder would enrich me as they matured!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Young All-Stars: Times Past, 1943: Aryan Youth.]
“Nice scheme,” said Power Girl. “Too bad you had to send those kids out for a dumb stunt like the robbery that led me here. What was the problem? You needed money for Hitler wigs?”
A surge of energy struck Power Girl as she hurled Kurtz to safety across the room. He gasped and said, “You… you could have killed me, too! Maniac!”
As Power Girl passed out, a weird little man capered out of the shadows and said, “I know you are, but what am I? Heee-heeh!”
Later, Power Girl woke up to find herself in her costume. Someone had removed her schoolgirl uniform. She sat up and found herself within a colorful, box-like prison. “I can smash through this in no time!” she muttered.
“Naughty, naughty, naughty!” giggled the little man as she glimpsed him through the walls of the box with her x-ray vision. His high-pitched voice was broadcast through the box in which she was trapped.
“Who are you?” she asked in disbelief.
He had a wild shock of blond hair, a freckled face, a broad grin, and he wore bright purple overalls with tennis shoes. He was very short and clearly was deeply insane.
“Opie Taylor! No, really, I’m Richie Rich! Just kidding! I am the Toyman, goo-goo-ga-joo! (*) And you are my latest toy. I think I’ll name you Super-Barbie!” he said as he stood on one leg.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Arrowette: The Archer’s Legacy, Chapter 2: Tussle with the Toyman.]
“Give me a minute, and I’ll wipe that smirk off your apple-pie face!” she said.
“If you break through my Rubik’s Cube of Death, you’ll cause this whole place to go boom!”
“You madman! You’d kill all these girls just to keep me in this box?”
“Yep. ‘Course, the box can be opened if you find the right pattern. See, each colored panel can be turned, and you can make all kinds o’ neat patterns! The only thing is that just getting each side to be one color won’t help. That’s too simple. That’s kid stuff, shall we say?”
He laughed merrily and said, “I was recruited by old Kurtzy to help him with the technology needed to control the girls. I jumped at the chance to get all those pretty living dolls to play with!” He then pouted and said, “‘Course, he was mean and would not let me spend any of the cash they brought in through tuition on anything fun like Micronauts or Go-Bots, so I altered the messages one day and made some of the dollies go rob a store so I could have some fun money!”
Power Girl nodded in understanding. That’s why Lucy was forced to rob that store. Toyman’s messages made them steal. She had no memory of being ordered to do so, since the order didn’t register on her surface mind. It was just planted subconsciously.
She adjusted the colored panels at super-speed until hundreds of different combinations of colored patterns had been created. She did it all in seconds at such a speed that even Toyman could not see her actions. The right combination finally clicked into place, and the cube popped open. She scooped up Toyman and said, “Now, do you want me to open you up and see if you were made by Mego, or will you surrender?”
Toyman blinked in dismay. “You broke free so fast! That’s not fair! You don’t play nice! I hate you!” he shouted and began to weep.
She stared at the little maniac in dismay. He’s like an angry child, she thought. He would kill the whole school on a whim and think no more about it than if he had stepped on a bug!
Toyman was so upset that she had solved his puzzle-trap that he made no effort to resist her as she wrapped a cable torn from the computers around him and summoned the police. As the police led him away with a bitter Kurtz, Toyman’s eyes brightened.
“That girl made me mad. Still, I think I’d like to play with her again! Oh, yes, I would!” he said with a wide smile.
Power Girl flew off, leaving a crowd of amazed pupils below.
“Like, that girl was a super-heroine!” said Debbi. “I could just die!”
Marlene grinned. “Yeah! And we had her as a dorm mate!”
Later, after the youth potion had worn off, a now-adult Power Girl sat across from Lucy Thompkins and explained that she had cleared her name with the police.
“The police know Toyman was to blame,” she said. “You and the other girls will have no charges brought against you. You will also be fine, since Kurtz will not be able to continue planting those orders within your minds. His commands will wear off in time. He’ll be in jail long after his mental manipulations fade from your mind.”
Lucy hugged her impulsively and said, “Thanks, Power Girl!”
“Call me Kara. We’re friends now.”
Lucy beamed as she said, “Cool! It is so awesome to hang around with a JSA member!”
Power Girl rolled her eyes in mock dismay. “I’m glad you think so. While I was posing as a teen at your school, I got the impression that I was very old and very un-hip! There’s one thing I have to know.”
“Sure!” said Lucy. “Anything.”
“How do you tell the difference between Flock of Seagulls and Kajagoogoo?” asked Power Girl.