Without another moment’s thought, Dick Grayson, Sandy Hawkins, and Roy Harper launched themselves at the gunsels holding them hostage. Each of them had experience fighting adults and, frankly, were not that far from adulthood themselves. It was a quick fight, and shortly only the three youths were standing.
“Dick, any idea where we are?” Sandy asked as he tied one of his foes up with some rope.
“No. This area doesn’t look familiar,” said Dick. “But I suspect if we take their truck and go down that road, we’ll find ourselves somewhere familiar soon.”
Roy sat rubbing his head. “Seems odd going into action without my costume on. Mine’s in Oliver’s car.”
“Ours are in Dick’s, so we three are gonna have to handle this as ourselves for a little while,” Sandy said. “Hey this goober is still conscious. Time to interrogate.”
“Right,” said Dick. “Good thing we, uh, Blue Boys are not known for killing people.”
“Can’t be known for what there ain’t no witnesses to,” Sandy said, slapping the semiconscious adult. “Come on, you — talk.”
Elsewhere, Oliver Queen regained consciousness just as he spotted a bicycle coming toward the cars. Just then, the purple mist reappeared, and the Confederate officer was once again there. “Beware! Beware! Danger!” Then, just as suddenly, he was gone. Queen felt himself being checked over by a rather portly man.
“Mawster Queen, it’s me, Alfred — Mawster Wayne’s gentleman’s gentleman. Are you seriously injured, sir?”
Queen’s head was pounding, and his mind was in a daze, but except for some minor injuries, he seemed to be in good condition. “What brings you this way, Alfred?”
“Mawster Dick and his friend are overdue in returning to the manor, so I decided to look for them,” said Alfred Beagle. “Gas-rationing being what it is, it seemed prudent to use my cycle as compared to the car. I say! I just spotted a note, sir.”
He picked it off the Wayne vehicle and handed to Queen, who studied it. “Damn. Someone’s kidnapped the boys and wants a ransom. I, uh… Ow! I think we had better head back to Bruce’s place and, uh, report this to the police.”
“Yes, sir. Good idea, sir.” Alfred started to turn his bike around.
“We’ll take my car, Alfred,” said Queen.
“Oh, jolly good show, sir. Say, an arrow — how interesting.” He picked it up and handed it to Queen. “Might be a clue, sir.”
Queen looked at the green arrow. He didn’t know if Alfred knew his identity as Green Arrow, although Bruce certainly did. But if he did, he was certainly discreet about it. “Right. Thanks, Alfred.”
“All I know is the boss paid us to take you rich kids. Said we’d get a couple thou each. I didn’t know you was the fighting type. Oh, my head!”
Roy smirked. “Now you know how I feel. Who’s your boss, anyways?”
The hoodlum shook his head. “He calls himself Rag — just Rag, not mister, or captain, or anything fancy. He’s new, I think.”
Dick looked around at what seemed to be a very desolate area. “Where are we?”
“Not far from the ruins of the old battlefield,” the hood said. “Before I hadda drop outta school to get a job, I remember we visited this place in school — well, the battlefield, at any rate.”
“Battlefield?” Sandy asked Dick.
“Yep. A small band of Confederate guerrillas had pulled a daring raid pretty far north,” said Dick. “One of Bruce’s ancestors led a counterattack. Legend has it that almost everyone on both sides vanished, never to be seen again. No one knows why.”
Roy said, “Bet there was a purple mist involved.”
Dick nodded. “Probably. Captain Andrew Wayne was one of the ones who vanished. Fortunately for me, he already had two sons when that happened. OK, we head for town, call Bruce, and, uh, better tell the police about these guys. Getting dark. Bet Alfred’s getting worried.”
“Hey, you just gonna leave us here?” the hood asked.
“Sure. Nothing around here to eat you that I know of.”
Dick responded, “Come on, guys. Let’s roll.”
The three boys headed for the army truck they had been brought in to this remote location, and as they approached it, Sandy yelled, “I’m driving!” He climbed into the driver’s side. Roy and Dick climbed in on the other side.
Looking around, Roy picked up a comic-book. “Hey, Captain Marvel! That’s swell! But what kind of name is Pinky for a boy sidekick?”
The three youths looked around, making sure it was all clear to pull out, and Dick indicated which direction they should drive. Since they were closer to Gotham City than Wayne Manor, their plan was to drive into the city, alert the authorities as to the location of the captured baddies, and call Bruce.
“Maybe we should bring them with us,” suggested Sandy.
“No, they’ll be OK here,” Dick responded.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne and Wesley Dodds listened to Oliver Queen as Alfred treated his wounds.
“Think we should suit up and go looking for the boys?” asked Wes, alias the Sandman.
“No, not yet,” said Bruce, alias the Batman. “But taking a drive in our civvies would be OK. Alfred, that purple mist story sounds familiar. Didn’t you tell me once about seeing something like that?”
“Yes, sir — in France during the last war. Always was a mystery to me, Mawster Bruce.”
Meanwhile, where Dick had left his car, two off-duty G.I.s were walking. “Hey, Willie, look — this car’s got its keys in it and a full tank of gas. Wonder where its driver is.”
“Don’t know, Joe. Maybe we had better take it into town and turn it over to the police. ‘Sides, that’ll get us back to base a whole lot quicker.”
They climbed in and drove toward town.
The Rag, as he called himself because of the ragged costume he wore, was in the meantime driving to meet his cronies when he spotted his other truck heading toward him. He slammed on the breaks and leaped out, pulling his machine gun with him.
The three boys also stopped and jumped out.
“How?” cried the Rag incredulously. “You three are more problems than you’re worth!”
He raised his weapon, but before he could unlock the safety, all three of them were on him like mustard on a hotdog, and he was quickly subdued. Roy pulled his mask off. “James Thatcher!” he exclaimed.
“Who?” Dick and Sandy asked the smaller youth.
“Oliver’s representative to the Army. He’s in charge of weapons sales, which explains why the pistols we found were from Queen Manufacturing.”
“Stupid kids! I had to pick three athletes to kidnap!” snarled Thatcher, a balding, skeletal, thin man. “The ransom would’a been my ticket out of this stupid war!”
Dick laughed and said, “Well, so would have been doing your job, bringing the Axis down that much sooner!”
“You tell him, old son!” Sandy said, slapping the slightly shorter Grayson on the back.
Later, at stately Wayne Manor, three reunited crime-fighting duos were relaxing after a fine dinner Alfred had fixed for them.
“The state boys rounded up Thatcher’s men, and the Gotham boys in blue have your car, Dick. Couple of soldiers turned it in, so all’s well that ends well,” Bruce said.
“What about the mist and the Confederate officer?” Roy asked.
Oliver shook his head. “That is indeed an odd mystery, but not one we’re going to solve tonight.”
“Indeed,” Wes said. “I plan to ask the Justice Society members to see if they have any information on it, but we may just have to file this mystery under unsolved.”
Bruce nodded. “Wouldn’t be the first one.”