Starman: Fatal Finishing School, Chapter 2: Shadows and Light

by Libbylawrence

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Later, Starman raced inside the Welmount penthouse with his head throbbing from Artemis’ potent toxin. He reached a scene of despair as Harris Welmount himself wept bitterly.

“What it is? Did they get Karyn?” demanded David Knight as he gently touched the worried father’s shoulder.

“Yes! Somehow they did!” said Welmount. “She’s gone, and the room is disturbed. A ransom note demands ten million dollars for her safe return!”

Starman frowned and said, “I’ll rescue her. Don’t worry. This is just a setback! I won’t fail!”

He flew off at top speed, and by streaking skyward and then rocketing back, he soon reached a lonely manor outside Paris.

This is the Lady of Shadows school grounds, he mused. They don’t keep their location secret. They only hide their true nature!

Starman melted through a wall and confronted several startled women. “Where’s Karyn Welmount?” he shouted. “I know your goons grabbed her. She’ll be brought here, and I’m going to be waiting!”

“This is a private school. We have no pupils named Welmount!” insisted a stern older woman.

“Well, maybe you’ll change your tune if I start melting this place down around you!” he said grimly.

“Try it, fly boy!” said a deep but feminine voice from the shadows.

David turned and raised the cosmic rod to illuminate the darkness that suddenly flooded the room. It did not fade, and he received a left hook to the chin. He grabbed for his attacker and missed as she ducked and rolled aside. He spun to kick out at her, and she grabbed his leg and slammed him backward. He stopped his fall with his rod and flew higher.

“I’ll shed some light on this situation!” he vowed.

Starman had the cosmic rod flare up, and he saw a sultry woman in a skimpy red and blue costume. She rolled across the room and flipped forward to bring both feet into his ribs. She’s stronger than a normal person and sees in pitch darkness! he mused. Dropping down, he said, “I’ll find Karyn and end this academy for killers! You can bank on it!”

The dark beauty he fought laughed, “You jerk! There are no killers here. This school does teach deserving women to be skilled fighters or even intelligence operatives, but we don’t kill or abduct heiresses! Ask Hourman — he’ll vouch for me! I’m called Blackout, and I graduated from this school.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Law’s Legionnaires: Darkness Unyielding.]

Starman raised his hands in a gesture of truce. “We need to talk,” he said.


Soon, Starman and Blackout had reached an understanding. “I just made a couple of calls, and I owe all of you a big apology, but I promise you I’ll make things right,” he said in a serious tone.

“Lighten up, flyboy!” laughed Blackout. “You were wrong. No need to beat yourself up about it. I’ve made a few mistakes before, too.”

Starman smiled and turned to fly off, but Blackout gripped his cape and pulled him around to face her. She leaped into his arms and said, “I’m going along for the ride. You owe me that much, doll!”

They flew off together and talked as he explained his situation.

“I’m Deena Tyler,” said Blackout. “My distant relation is Rex Tyler — Hourman. I can trust you with my secret, since you are a son of his ally. It’s funny that the two of us are working together. Your pop helped Hourman out on his last JSA case in the early 1940s. (*) It’s like kismet!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Justice Society Adventure the World’s Not Ready to Learn About Yet,” All-Star Squadron Annual #3 (1984).]

“I’m glad you’re on my side,” said Starman. “How’d you know I was Starman’s son? The glow usually fools most folks.”

She purred and said, “That’s my secret. I was a spy girl, you know!”

Her laughter was musical, and he felt his pulse quicken. She’s gorgeous. Probably out of my league, though, he mused.

“If I recall the history right, Starman took Hourman’s place in the JSA,” she said. “Maybe I’ll have to watch you extra closely.”

“Oh, no need,” David said, smiling. “I can’t exactly take my eyes off you, either, in that costume!”

“So where are we headed?” she said.

“To find Karyn Welmount,” he replied. “I know where she is now.”

They zoomed toward a seedy house outside the city, and he began to have the cosmic rod strobe with powerful pulses of light. He entered the house and said, “OK, Karyn, come on out! The game is over!”

A decidedly sultry Karyn Welmount emerged, accompanied by a hulking man with long blond hair.

“So, the hero is smarter than he looks. I thought giving you that bunk about a school of killers would send you right to your death. Seems a very drunken gal pal of mine let it slip that she did attend your spy school, and I figured by telling you that that was my school, you’d go crashing in and, just maybe, be killed. In any case, it delayed you long enough for me to meet up with Doug, here, after he collected the ransom from poor old Daddy!” She laughed.

“Open the bag, you witch!” said David.

“The money is there; Dougie checked when he met Daddy in the park,” said Karyn.

“A couple of bills and a self-generating hologram!” said Starman. “You have maybe a thousand bucks there!” He continued, “I called your Dad before coming here. He told me the real name of your school. It was not Our Lady of the Shadows. When I realized you’d lied about it to send me on a wild goose chase, I figured you wanted me out of the way so you could do what you’d planned all along. You staged a fake kidnapping after feeding your father a wild tale taken from the gossip of one of your debutante pals.”

“Big deal,” Karyn said, sneering. “I was steamed when he called you in. I figured local cops would be the extent of it. I used most of my ready cash to hired Artemis to occupy you. I planned on her killing you, but she failed.”

“Her old man don’t approve of me,” said Doug. “We figured we could fake her abduction, fool the cops, and live large.”

“You still can,” vowed Starman, “behind bars.”

He moved toward the larcenous pair as Doug whipped out a gun. Starman melted it to pulp and connected with a hard right hook. Doug did not rise, and Karyn screamed.

“You creep! I’ll kill you for this!” she shrieked.

“Please, allow me!” said Blackout.

Starman shrugged. “Sure.”

Blackout walked toward Karyn and slapped her to the ground.

“Your father didn’t believe me,” said Starman. “He thinks Dougie is behind it all, and you’re a pawn. The tape recorder I have here should change his mind.” He turned to Blackout. “Thanks for the assist. She had that coming, but I couldn’t have done it. Too old-fashioned, I guess.”

Blackout drew him near and kissed him. “I kinda like that about you, flyboy.”

“Now to locate Artemis!” said Starman.

The woman in question stepped out of the shadows. “Easily done. Now what will you do with me now that you’ve got me, Ace?” she drawled.

He raised his cosmic rod and said, “Put you back behind bars! How’d you escape, anyway? The warden I called earlier said you literally vanished.”

The beautiful blonde laughed, “Granny helped me… and we’re going to help her!”

She flipped forward and caught Blackout off-guard with a lethal kick. She spun around and tackled David and said, “Now!”

They vanished in a bright flash, and Blackout rose to gaze in wonder at the empty space. “Magic! Just swell,” she said.


Meanwhile, David Knight found his hands full — literally — as Artemis Crock clung to him, and the world faded away around his confused eyes.

“Hold on! If we get separated here, we’ll both be lost or trapped forever!” said the blonde.

Starman obeyed as he tried to restore some sense of place via the gravity-altering fields of the cosmic rod. He landed hard with Artemis on top of him. She caressed his face and helped him up.

“You know, I could have killed you when we first fought,” she said. “I didn’t, because you intrigued me. I wanted to see you in action, and I knew I could track you down easily, if needed. So I left and watched. You are handsome in that 1940s mystery-man manner. To think I used to sneer at mother’s passion for the Manhunter and grandma’s love for Zatara!” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1947: The New Olympians, Chapter 1: The Valkyrie’s Touch and “The Mystery of the Freight Train Robberies,” Action Comics #1 (June, 1938).]

Starman nodded. “I heard Karyn say she’d paid you for my death. I wondered why you didn’t finish me off.”

Artemis tossed her blonde locks forward and said, “Don’t get the wrong idea. I may kill you yet when I’m done with you!”

She raised her hands to her forehead and said, “Grandma, he is here! Now what?”

David frowned. “Grandma seems to be invisible.”

“She’s communicating with me mentally,” said Artemis. “She did so when I was in prison, and her magics freed me so I might free her from this place.”

“Where are we?” asked Starman. “Looks like New York City!”

Artemis laughed in a sultry manner. “Oh, it is, but not in the world we know!”

Starman realized he just might be in over his head.

Continued in Starman: Brave New World

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