A masked man dressed like a giant owl laughed madly as he clutched a bag with the word LOOT printed across the front in large, capital letters.
“The Horned Owl will feather his nest this night!” he said. “And who, who, who can stop me?”
“Who? Why, who else but yours truly?” said a handsome figure in blue and gold as he swooped down to grab the Horned Owl by his oversized collar. “Not so fast, jail-bird! Your crime spree is about to lay an egg!”
“Curses! Booster Gold!” cried the villain as he tried to run.
“The one and only!” replied the hero as he shoved the Owl to the ground.
Booster Gold laughed as the fleeing figure ran into a wall and collapsed at the hero’s feet. “What’s wrong, Owl? Don’t tell me you couldn’t see in the dark!”
As he pulled the beaten criminal to his feet, the man in blue and gold smiled warmly toward the cameras and said, “Don’t be sad, Owl. You can pass the time in prison watching the All-New Booster Gold and His Action Pals cartoon every Saturday! Check your local listings.”
“And — cut!” cried the director as the commercial ended, and the actor playing the Horned Owl removed his hood.
“Nice job, Booster,” he said. “You’re becoming quite the actor!”
Booster gave the man a high five and turned to sign a few autographs for some watching guests in the studio. “Thanks, Al,” he said. “Maybe we can get you to do the voice of the animated Horned Owl if the writers use him in the show!”
Posing for a few photos with his adoring fans, he then entered his dressing room. There, a stocky man with a walrus mustache jumped up to greet him as the hero sat down on a chair before a mirror. “Dirk Davis! How is my favorite agent?” asked Gold.
Dirk Davis grinned and said, “Boosteriffic!”
Booster grinned broadly and said, “Careful — I copyrighted that catch phrase!”
Dirk shrugged sheepishly and said, “You can afford to let that go for free. I just signed a deal for a line of Booster Gold dolls!”
“Make that action-figures,” said Booster. “The boys won’t buy dolls!”
Dirk nodded and said, “But the girls will buy the new Goldstar fashion doll!”
Booster frowned and said, “Goldstar? Who is Goldstar?”
A very pretty teenage girl with long blonde hair and a perky manner jumped out from behind a screen. She was wearing a white and gold costume with a brightly colored gold star on her chest.
“Me! You haven’t forgotten your own little sister, have you?” she said in a teasing manner.
Booster nodded admiringly and hugged her as she said, “Michelle! What’s with the costume? This isn’t exactly the family business!”
“No, I know! See, Dirk figured you could use a character based on me in the cartoon. Goldstar — Booster Gold’s sister and sidekick!”
Dirk nodded and said, “The marketing boys designed the costume and came up with the name! I thought, why not have your real sister be the model on which the dolls and the cartoon version is based?”
Booster laughed and said, “I like it! You look good, kid. Just don’t try to carry that action-heroine routine into the real world!”
Michelle Carter said nothing as she slipped a robe over the costume.
Dirk said, “I got to see the toy people about a funny-animal version called Rooster Gold. The little kids will love it!”
After he left, Booster smiled and turned to where a small metallic sphere hovered nearby. “Wake up, Skeets! You’ve recharged your internal batteries enough!” he said to his loyal robotic aide.
As Skeets hummed to life, a metallic voice replied, “It was time well spent, Booster, I assure you.”
Booster nodded. In spite of his joking around, he knew that the little robot had proven to be a loyal ally since the two of them had come back in time from the far future in order to turn the former Michael Carter into an action-hero who also used his fame for profit. (*) “Well, I better hurry. Skeets and I are due at our new business!” said Booster.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Sentinels of Justice: Superpowers, Chapter 8: Moopsball Hero.]
“Hey, that’s right!” said Michelle. “Today is the day your friend Ted Kord is opening the research company you and he financed!”
“Right!” he said. “Since Ted’s creepy father threatened him with legal action over the Bug and other matters, Ted decided to open his own research and development lab. He had plenty of money from his patents, but I wanted to help out, too. The world can think of it as just another one of my investments. They don’t need to know Ted is my pal the Blue Beetle!”
Michelle nodded and said, “He’s so sweet! Can I tag along?”
Booster put his arm around her and said, “Sure! And keep the costume on. It will give Goldstar some added P.R. before the dolls hit the market!”
As the siblings departed, Michelle thought of how remarkable a man her brother was. Beneath his glib and brash exterior, he had the selfless heart of a true hero. She knew that he had saved the world more than once and was respected by his fellow members in the Sentinels of Justice. He used his wealth to do a lot of good as well, but he didn’t advertise that fact. He had been a guard at the Museum of Space Adventures in the far future when he had conceived the plan to use equipment in the museum to become a costumed champion and to base himself in the twentieth century via his use of a time machine found in the museum. He had arrived in the 1980s and had managed to prevent the U.S. president from being assassinated. Fame from that heroic deed had enabled him to become a success both as a hero and as a celebrity. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Sentinels of Justice: Superpowers, Chapter 9: Blue and Gold.]
Later, as Booster Gold landed in front of an impressive facility, he gently lowered Michelle from his arms and nodded approvingly. “Ted did a great job! This place may eventually become the birthplace of some of the very pieces of equipment that ended up in the Museum of Space Adventures back in our own time!”
Michelle smothered a yawn. She wasn’t interested in science at all. Still, she admired Booster and Ted Kord, and was determined to look interested. “I’m so glad your time cop friend was able to bring mom and me here to join you,” she said. (*) “We would have been so lonely without you in the thirtieth century!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Sentinels of Justice: Atomic Nightmare, Chapter 7: Monarch of All He Surveys.]
Booster squeezed her hand and said, “Me, too, kid. Me, too!”
After passing through a security check, Booster Gold, Skeets, and Michelle Carter made their way into a spacious office where a brown-haired man in a white sweater was frowning over a stack of papers.
“Why so glum, Ted?” asked Booster.
Ted Kord looked up, smiled at his buddy, and said, “Sorry, Booster. I was just looking over the proposals for projects we’ve already received. I think we’re going to be really busy here, unless the place goes bust!”
Seeing Booster’s sister with him, he greeted the girl with a wave and said, “Hi, Michelle! Nice costume! Don’t tell me Booster is trying to design a clothing line now!”
She giggled and said, “Don’t give him any ideas!”
Skeets hovered in the air and then spoke in his metallic tone. “I am greatly impressed with what you have done here, Mr. Ted.”
Ted smiled and said, “Thanks! That means a lot, coming from you. You’ve seen machines that make our best inventions look like Model Ts!”
“The only model I’m interested in is Rachel Hunter,” said Booster. “I don’t suppose she’s hiding around here someplace?”
“You wish,” said Ted. “I’d like you to meet some of my staff. They are a great bunch. Come with me!” He led the odd group to where two men and a woman were discussing business matters. The slightly younger man was thin and wore his long black hair in a rather messy style.
“This is Dr. Murray Takamoto,” said Ted. “He was one of my old college roommates and is a real genius!”
Dr. Takamoto glanced back and forth between Booster and his sister and stammered, “Nice to meet you! Say, that is one fascinating-looking robot!” He ignored the humans as he gazed up at Skeets.
“Murray loves robotics,” explained Ted. “He also knows more than most people about every other type of scientific discipline!”
While Skeets continued a discussion with Dr. Takamoto, Ted led the others over to the older black man who wore a heavy lab coat.
“Folks, this is Dr. Jeremiah Duncan,” said Ted. “What he doesn’t know about chemistry doesn’t need to be known!”
“Son, you have got a habit of babbling, but I like it! I like it a lot!” said Dr. Duncan.
Ted smiled as a lovely redheaded woman came closer and extended one hand.
“I’m Dr. Melody Case. My specialties are computer science and flirting!” she said with a warm laugh. She wore a pink blouse with a short white skirt and heels.
Booster stepped closer and said, “Tell me more. I’m here to learn!”
Ted smiled and said, “Mr. Gold forgets that he is on a tight schedule!”
Melody winked at Booster and said, “Oh, well. Banish a girl to her cold, empty lab!”
Meanwhile, Michelle was chatting with Dr. Takamoto as he gestured toward a series of components.
“I hope to eventually integrate this mini-exo-skeleton into what might be called a battle-suit — like the one Booster wears!”
Michelle nodded intently. To her own surprise, she was very interested in what Murray was saying. In fact, she smiled as she began to develop an idea of her own about how Dr. Takamoto’s invention could be put to good use.
However, that was a plan for another time, and soon afterward, the small group went their separate ways. Ted Kord himself stifled a yawn as he waved goodbye to his friendly secretary Alice and called it a day.
Later, after Ted’s remarkably efficient secretary Alice Medley had concluded her long work day and was walking across the lab complex’s parking lot, a mysterious figure materialized nearby and stepped forward to confront her.
He spread a white cape in a dramatic flourish and spoke in a whisper that was as clear as a shout to the pretty woman because of her artificial android ears. “Tomorrow Woman! In spite of your colorful name, today is the day your new destiny will begin!” he said.
Alice frowned as she recognized the costumed figure. The Ghost! I’ve read about him in the Sentinels of Justice crime files! she thought.
She concentrated slightly, her telekinetic power reached out to push the Ghost backward, but she failed to make contact with the elusive figure.
The Ghost laughed and said, “You can’t touch me unless I want you to — and as lovely as you are, that may be a distinct possibility in the future — but for now, I fear I have to utter those rather melodramatic words: you are my prisoner!”
Alice frowned as he disappeared once more. She could not detect him with any of her superior senses. Still, she knew enough about the notorious villain to expect him to pop up again at any moment.
As she opened her car’s trunk, she removed a small bundle that contained gloves and rolled up boots. Alice knew she had no need to conceal her identity as Tomorrow Woman from the mocking action-villain, since he clearly knew her secret. Thus she removed her outer dress and quickly put on the gloves and boots, and she was now fully costumed.
Tomorrow Woman wore a fluffy white mini-skirt like a small tutu with a gold V shape on the front. Her bustier was green with gold trim, and her thigh-high high-heeled boots were green, as were her cape and the small trim kid gloves on her hands.
No one else is around in this lot, she mused. I guess I’m the last to leave tonight! I don’t even see any security staffers, but I should be able to handle the Ghost on my own! I’d hate to see innocent people get hurt!
She gasped as a hand closed over her mouth, and the Ghost enveloped her in his voluminous cloak. Before she could react, Tomorrow Woman vanished with her enigmatic captor.