The morning after his battle with Sportsmaster and Decathlon at the Amity Games, a weary David Knight received a call from Sylvester Pemberton. He grabbed the phone and said, “Hello?”
Sylvester, the Patriot, answered and explained why he was calling. “David, we received a call at Infinity Inc.’s Stellar Studios headquarters from Harris Welmount. He wanted to contact you, so I took his contact data to pass it on to you. Seems the richest man in the world is a fan of yours!”
David smiled. “Thanks. If you ever decide to hang up the tights, I’ll hire you as my secretary!”
Sylvester laughed and said, “Very amusing, considering you’re talking to the guy who signs your checks. Seriously, you did great against the family Crock. Wildcat called me up, singing your praises.”
David was pleased to hear that. Ted Grant, alias the Wildcat, was a legend of sorts. His respect was not to be taken lightly, nor was it easily earned. David had saved Welmount from a threat by the infamous Sportsmaster, and he assumed that the billionaire merely wanted to extend his thanks.
After a surprisingly short time on hold, he heard the rich, baritone voice of Welmount. “Starman, thank goodness I reached you. I need your help! I must see you! It’s a matter of life and death!” he pleaded.
David agreed to come to the penthouse, and he gathered his costume and cosmic rod.
The guy seems to really respect me! he thought. That’s a pleasant change after the grief Jack gave me when I saw him off. The little punk treats me like dirt!
The hero of Opal City soared toward Welmount’s luxurious penthouse and was greeted by the man himself when he got there.
“Starman, can you dim that light a bit? It’s so bright I can barely see you,” he said.
The new Starman shook his head. “Sorry, that’s why I use it. The light obscures my features. How can I help you? You said it was serious.”
Welmount nodded. “I have a daughter, Karyn. She is my only child. I paid to send her to one of the finest private schools in Europe. She ran away, and when my jet picked her up, she was a sight. She explained that the girls’ school was not what it seemed. It was really a covert school for spies — killers! She says the teachers turn girls into assassins. Most of them go along with it, as if it was some form of mind-control, like a cult, maybe. Karyn escaped and got to a phone. I have her safe here with me, but she says they will try to kill her. She got in last night after that fiasco at the games. I figured you were the only one I could count on.”
“The school won’t take her escape lightly,” said Starman. “If they’ve existed in such secrecy for this long, they’ll kill to keep their secrets. Don’t worry, I’ll shut them down!”
Later, as the new Starman sat across from Karyn Welmount, he pondered over her intensity. She was a somber girl with lank dark hair but a pretty face. She told a tale full of intrigue and considerable danger, and she did so without showing the fear or concern David Knight would have associated with her recollection of the peril she had faced.
“The school is called Our Lady of the Shadows. It has a long history, or so we all believed. Rich brats get shipped off there by their uninvolved parents. They think their babies will be groomed to be husband bait, but in reality, a psycho who trains the girls to become hired assassins or spies or thieves runs the school. If any of them argue or resist, they either meet quick deaths or undergo some mind-control process that makes them docile. Most of them wear bracelets and obey their mistress like they were pet dogs! I pretended to go along with it at first, then escaped. My daddy taught me to fly, and I made off with a private plane. They didn’t expect any of their girls to be able to pilot a plane!”
David had been a serious youth, too. He had excelled in academics and sports, and had set a goal to follow in his father’s mystery-man boots. Now, with Ted Knight — the real Starman — missing, David felt the pressure was greater than ever for him to honor and live up to the legacy of the JSA’s stellar crusader.
“Karyn, I am intrigued by the bracelets,” he said. “That sounds like the Amazon bracelets of submission.”
Karyn shrugged. “Beats me. I made my break from that place as quickly as I could. Problem is, they’ll send some honor students after me to keep me quiet.”
“Don’t worry,” said Starman. “Let me handle them.” He spoke boldly, but he wondered if he was up to the task. Decathlon had been a teenager, yet due to her father’s deadly training, she had been a real challenge. Perhaps this school could be as big a menace. He said, “I’m going to look around from above!”
Starman flew off and gazed left, right, and around the penthouse. He caught a flash of light and created a glowing shield around himself. As the field formed in front of his face, a projectile bounced off.
Man! That thing could have killed me! he thought as he zoomed toward the direction from which the shot had originated.
He saw a woman with a weird gun and slammed into her with full force. “Sorry, babe, but Starmen are definitely out of season!” he joked.
She snarled and kicked him in the face before rolling backward and crouching on all fours. “You beat my bratty sister, but now you’re facing the real heiress to the Tigress!” she said.
Her long, platinum blonde hair fell over one eye, and she wore white and pink. Her thigh-high boots and striking figure caught his eye even as she spun and fired a mini-crossbow.
David deflected the bolt and lifted her skyward with a wave of the cosmic rod. “Artemis! So you’re Crock’s other girl!” he said.
Artemis Crock struggled against the gravity-defying power and snarled, “Laugh now — I’ll hunt you down and kill you!”
“Fun date,” he quipped.
Artemis kicked helplessly, and Starman never dropped his guard. He knew that if he dropped the field, she’d be all over him with deadly force. She hovered helplessly and then became limp.
She’s fainted! he thought.
Starman dropped her to the ground and bent closer, only to be clawed across the face and kneed below the belt. She jabbed him with a bolt and laughed a throaty laugh.
“I was paid by someone to occupy any heroes who tried to guard that princess. Now that I know you’re their patsy, this job has become a real pleasure,” she laughed. Artemis kissed him and slugged him as the drugged bolt’s poison left him stunned and helpless.
David Knight fell at her feet, and he heard her say, “Next time I won’t play so nice!”
Darkness clouded his mind, and he knew no more.