Sentinels of Justice: Another Crisis on Earth-Four, Chapter 9: The Silver Scarab

by Libbylawrence

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Later, within the original Kord facility, the Scarlet Scarab had managed to secure his captives within Alistair Kord’s private laboratory.

The frightened Tracey Kord naturally recognized her husband’s old headquarters, and she turned to Melody Case with an anxious expression on her face. “Melody, I know Ted’s place pretty well,” she whispered. “I worked with him for years. I think I can get us out of here. Ted equipped the lab with a secret panel!”

The Scarlet Scarab, alias Mark McClusky, was growing increasingly irrational as he paced back and forth and seemed to stare wildly into empty space. “I want that scarab! I was promised the scarab!” he muttered.

At that moment, Alistair Kord walked into the room and frowned as he recognized all three of the people in his domain.

The Scarlet Scarab hurried around from behind the desk, while a weeping Tracey Kord was sitting nearby as a beautiful red haired woman in a short skirt and pale cream-colored blouse tried to soothe her.

Kord and Tracey recognized each other immediately from various photos, but despite their common familial relationship, they had never met. The elder Kord had been away on his prolonged foreign travels when Ted had married Tracey, and delegated a secretary to send his best wishes to the couple. Tracey turned to Melody Case and said, “That’s Ted’s father!”

“Tracey?! What is the meaning of this? Scarab, you certainly weren’t supposed to involve my daughter-in-law, or the celebrated computer expert Melody Case!” Kord began walking toward the two women, when the Scarlet Scarab blocked his path.

“Kord, they are my bargaining chips!” declared the Scarlet Scarab. “I’ll free them when your son gives me his scarab!”

The elder Kord was a cold and calculating man, but he had no design to completely alienate his son. He still held out the hope that he could manipulate Ted into seeing his father as his only avenue of sanctuary after the police came to suspect him of being guilty of the crimes his imitator had committed.

“Scarab, you wound me!” said a suddenly smiling Kord. “I have always had every intention of giving you what you want. I admit that I was holding back the reward your fine efforts have earned, because as a businessman I wanted to get all the help you could provide before surrendering what you desired so strongly!”

The Scarlet Scarab scowled as he listened to the glib old man. “What are you saying? Is this a trick?” he growled.

Alistair walked over to a thick safe and deftly spun a combination dial until the door swung open to reveal a strange gleaming object.

“A scarab! It’s a silver scarab!” cried the Scarlet Scarab as he pushed by Kord and started to grab the mystical object.

But he drew back his hand in pain as energy stung him through his insulated glove. “It burned me! What trick is this?” he demanded.

“I was given that particular scarab by the lovely Layla,” said Kord. “She found it in some other realm through which her bizarre devices allowed her to traverse!”

The Scarab whirled to face Kord as he shouted, “But I can’t touch it! What good is it if I can’t touch it?”

“A man of my resources might very well find a way to overcome its apparent defenses, if given time and obedience,” stated Kord.

McClusky roared in anger and dived at the old man. But before he could reach the object of his hatred, he was tripped by a newcomer who bounded into the room through a sliding panel.

“Leave him alone!” said the real Blue Beetle. “I heard enough before I came in to know you’re a fruitcake!”

“Ted!” cried a relieved Tracey.

As the Beetle turned in surprise to see his wife, he was struck from behind by the Scarlet Scarab. As he fell forward, he managed to roll with the impact and regain his footing before the other costumed figure could touch him again.

“Stay back, fella!” said the Blue Beetle as he inched across the room and tried to place himself between his wife and the Scarlet Scarab. “I was willing to go easy on you, since you seem to be a victim of this old rogue’s scheming, but if you’ve harmed my wife, the gloves are off!

The Beetle frowned as recognized Melody as well. “I heard enough to know my secret is out,” he said. “Dad, you’ve gone off the deep end! I found evidence that you’d sold inventions to the Russians a year ago, but I dismissed it! (*) I convinced myself and my friends that the information had been stolen from your mind by that memory-recorder device you’d planted with the other plans I found. But I was wrong! You aren’t the man I foolishly thought you were. I see that now!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Sentinels of Justice: Superpowers, Chapter 3: Father Issues.]

“All of you calm down,” said Alistair Kord. “We can resolve this! Join me, Ted. Help me help the Scarlet Scarab regain his sanity. We can all work together.”

Blue Beetle kept his gaze fixed on the Scarab as he spoke to Melody. “Dr. Case, take my wife back through the passageway I came through. We’ll settle things, but only when you two are safe!”

The Scarlet Scarab dived forward and wrestled furiously with Ted Kord as the women hurried toward the panel, and Alistair raced into an adjoining room and returned with the gleaming circlet he had used to create his Pseudo-Squad.

The Blue Beetle fell down hard as he realized that his foe was stronger and driven by a wild rage. He rammed his knee into the other man’s stomach, then linked both hands and connected with a blow to the head.

The Scarlet Scarab grunted in pain, but clawed at Blue Beetle’s face until he regained the upper hand. “Give me the scarab! Just give me the scarab!” he cried.

Alistair concentrated, and the incredible circlet flared with power as pure mental energy surged outward to strike both costumed figures.

As they pitched forward at his feet, Tracey caught a glimpse of her stricken husband and hurried back into the room. “Leave him alone!” she cried.

“I’m merely subduing them, my dear,” said Alistair. “Later, when they are calmer, we shall come to terms!”

Blue Beetle gritted his teeth and fought to regain his footing. “Trace, get out!” he said.

Nearby, the Scarlet Scarab was shaking with pain as he also stood back up.

Melody tried to urge Tracey to flee with her, but the pregnant woman could not leave her husband. She ran to his side as the Scarab lashed out and knocked her into Beetle’s path.

“Leave her alone! She’s pregnant!” cried the perceptive Melody Case.

Ted gasped as he caught his wife. “Trace, is it true?” She nodded as she clutched his arm.

Alistair also drew back as his enhanced mental powers allowed him to confirm the truth. “She’s carrying my grandchild!” he shouted. “I won’t allow one of my heirs to be harmed!”

The Scarlet Scarab screamed as the old man focused all of his power through the band toward the enraged black-and-red-clad figure.

For a moment, the Scarlet Scarab almost reached his tormentor, but he collapsed as his features contorted in pain, and he gripped his chest.

Blue Beetle leaned forward and touched the still form of his opposite number. “He’s dead!” he said slowly.

Alistair nodded and said, “I suppose his damaged metabolism couldn’t stand the power.”

Ted took Tracey’s hand and said, “Dad, I’m taking her out of here!”

Before they could continue their conversation, Booster Gold kicked down the outer door and entered the lab. “Sorry, pal, but you know me — I can’t resist a captive audience!” quipped Booster.

Alistair sighed and aimed his mental powers at the colorful corporate crusader. Booster groaned as a bolt of force struck him.

“Stop!” shouted Beetle. “I’m warning you!”

Booster activated his force-field and projected it around the old man, but he was unable to stop the purely cerebral energies.

Beetle moved forward again and said, “Dad, don’t make me fight you!”

Kord scowled and said, “You’d choose this shallow fool over your own father? You don’t deserve the name of Kord. I’ll rid myself of you both and raise your child as my true heir!”

Blue Beetle gasped he, too, felt a wave of energy hit his body.

Booster Gold aimed one gauntlet at the roof above Alistair’s head. He shook with pain, but still managed to fire an energy burst that shattered the roof and momentarily startled his friend’s father.

Before either hero could take advantage of the moment, Alistair began to glow with energy, and the falling roof burned to dust before it could harm him.

“I’m sorry, Ted. This was your choice!” cried Kord.

Blue Beetle saw his father’s features begin to fade behind the glow of raw energy. “Stop! You’re putting a strain on your own mind!” he cried.

As Booster and the Beetle fell beneath the wildly surging bolts of power, and Alistair began to lose any semblance of humanity, Tracey turned to Melody in desperation.

“Help them! We’ve got to!” she said.

Melody glanced around the room and hesitated as she struggled to find some solution. Suddenly, her gaze fell upon the silver scarab in the open safe. As she reached out to grab it, a shocking transformation occurred. The silver scarab not only allowed her to touch it, but it seemed to bond with her and alter her in more ways than one.

The beautiful scientist’s red hair turned a platinum white, and a costume of silver and pink enveloped her. White high-heeled boots formed on her feet, and a pink mask appeared and covered her upper face. She stepped forward and gasped as gossamer wings opened and spread wide from her back.

She flew across the room, and as her lithe body came between the struggling heroes and the old man, an energy backlash erupted, leaving all three men silent and still.

Tracey touched Ted as he shook his head and regained his breath.

Booster nodded slowly as the altered Melody helped him up. “Nice moves, legs!” he said.

Ted bent over his father and placed one hand over his own eyes. “He’s… gone,” he said slowly. “The energy must have burned him alive.”

Melody spoke in what was now an altered, oddly soothing voice that was unlike her normal tone. “The scarab’s power deflected the mental energy back into him!” she said. “But I never meant to kill him! I don’t understand what happened to me!”

Beetle nodded and said, “You didn’t. His own lust for power destroyed him. May he rest in peace.”

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