Phantom Lady and Black Condor: 1942: Lethal Legislation, Chapter 2: Dirty Politics

by Libbylawrence

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Phantom Lady was very much in her element, not just because she came rushing in from the shadows in which her special lens allowed her to see, but more so because as Sandra Knight or the sultry Phantom Lady she loved adventure. The thrill, the rush, even the simple change from her ordinary debutante routine caused her heart to pound faster. She cared for people and justice, and she wanted to see both individual liberty and ideals of justice upheld. However, above all else this daughter of privilege lived for the reckless rush of danger.

“Any of you boys got a match?” she said. “Won’t help you, anyway!” She used her blackout ray to blanket the room with darkness and crashed into them with skill. A high kick dropped one fat thug even as she spun away to trip a second gunman.

The third drew his gun to aim, only to receive a shock when the Lady vanished completely. “Where’d that doll go?” he muttered.

“Well, considering you just received a black eye, I’d say she’s right here!” laughed Sandy as she delivered a hard right.

The Black Condor soared high and gripped a table. Hefting it above his powerful arms, he dropped it in the middle of the remaining gangsters. One fell, stunned immediately, while the others scattered. He cleared the area between them instantly and clipped one with a quick left hook. Before the remaining one could fire his gun, Condor was on him. He was stronger than the typical man, and it was a simple matter for him to rip the gun free and slam the man to the ground. “Now, who is the boss around here? None of you seem particularly bright,” he said.

“I believe that I fit that description rather well,” said a muffled voice.

The Black Condor winced, as did the Phantom Lady, as a glowing figure appeared from the rear. He wore a business suit and a weirdly glowing hood that covered his features and muffled his voice. Even through Sandy’s blackout ray, the weird illumination shone. His head seemed to be floating above nothingness, but this was merely because the mask glowed so.

“Who are you?” she demanded.

“Call me the Shiner. Or better yet, just die!” he said, and his glowing mask flared, causing a surge of energy to bathe the room.

Black Condor saw Phantom Lady faint just as he was also drained of energy. He struggled against the energy as it sapped his power, but mere inches away from the gang leader he finally fell, blinded and stunned. In the darkness of his dreams, he still saw a potent white glow.

***

Tom Wright woke up later as water rushed across his face. He was bound and weighted down with some solid object. Nearby, he saw Phantom Lady in a similar plight. “Sandy, wake up!” he cried.

He realized they were in Gotham Harbor. He strained with all his might and finally broke free of the ropes. Taking a deep breath, he dropped down beneath the waves until he grabbed the lead weight around his legs. He heaved it up onto his broad chest and flew out of the water to shore. A quick movement tore his legs free, and he plunged down after Sandra Knight, who was now fighting to be free and failing. He cut through her ropes, and as the weight dropped, he carried her to shore. Quickly performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he revived her.

“The Shiner must have figured he could do us in this way. He figured wrong,” said a grim Condor.

Phantom Lady replied, “Any clue as to who was behind that glowing mask?”

“No, except for one thing. That old house must have an owner, even if he is hidden behind a legal facade of holding companies,” he explained. “We can rip through that red tape with my connections.”

***

Later, in Senator Wright’s office, Tom Wright told Sandra, “That place is owned by the other senator who has been working for the anti-crime bill: Cranston Smythe!”

“Why would he want you dead?” said Sandra Knight as she perched upon his office desk. “And why disrupt his own legislative session? Could he be angling for your death for some other reason?”

Each was in civilian attire, and many envious eyes admired Wright’s new companion. One who was less happy was Wendy Foster, the fiancée of the real Wright, who wrongly believed Tom was her old lover. She fumed as the beautiful Sandra leaned over her beloved’s shoulders. “I hate to interrupt this personal moment!” she yelled.

Tom winced and said, “Wendy, I’m helping a colleague’s daughter with some research. Do you need something?” The spoiled redhead shrieked and stomped off, her high heels clattering down the hall.

“Are you in trouble?” asked Sandy.

“Constantly. I’d almost like to just chuck it all and… I don’t know, move to another Earth or something without that red-haired nuisance,” he said ruefully. Although he had inherited his engagement with Wendy Foster when he took over Wright’s identity, he had never fallen in love with her. To some extent, she must have known he did not love her, which explained why she had begun having more temper tantrums lately than normal. “But I can’t just jilt her and keep up my pretense of being Wright!”

Sandy suddenly kissed him, and then they broke away.

“I’d better find out why Smythe wants me dead, or Congress disrupted,” he said. “He may be after me because of my other agenda — environmental reform. The First Lady supports me, but we are almost lone voices.”

Sandy said, “Could Smythe have other holdings that are not so… uh… environmentally friendly?

“Good question,” said Condor.

“I think I can get inside his office,” she said with a smile. “All it’ll take is a bit of money and a wardrobe change.”

***

It was a given fact that among the wealthy classes, be it 1850 or 1942, servants were neither seen nor heard. They were just there to perform a service and stay out of the way until needed again. Thus, when Sandy Knight hired Smythe’s maid Monique away with a large raise and employment on the Knight estates, no one in authority noticed that the French maid with the blonde bob cut, fishnet hose, and heels was really Sandra Knight in disguise.

She entered Smythe’s study while idly sweeping with a feather duster. With speed and skill, she located a wall safe and broke in after moments listening at the tumblers. “Good thing I used to do that at Daddy’s office during Christmastime to sneak a peek at my gifts!” she laughed.

Sandy flipped through papers and smiled as she found a document proving that Cranston Smythe owned a radium-processing plant with an amazingly low budget for safety features. “He wants the environmental safety bill Tom is working on to die!” she realized. “He used Nazi costumes on that gang to throw off suspicion.”

Hearing footsteps, she closed the safe and slipped the document down her uniform. She turned to dust away from the door as Smythe himself entered. She had seen him before in D.C. society. He was a handsome, middle-aged man with graying temples.

“Ah, Monique, don’t mind me,” he said, slipping up behind her and spanking her bottom.

She yelped in French and giggled convincingly as she hurried out. A killer, a masked crook, and a letch, she fumed.

***

The news that Smythe owned a radium-processing plant with few safety features finalized Tom Wright’s own conviction that his senatorial colleague had something to hide. “You make a fetching French maid,” he said as Sandra showed him the documents.

Merci!” she said with a curtsey. “The plant is in Gotham, so do we go back?”

“We go back,” he said smiling.

***

They waited until night, then Phantom Lady stepped out from the shadows in a Gotham City street to confront Smythe’s top aide, Wentworth. “We know about the radium plant. We know about the safety flaws. We know about the backer of the fake Black Assassins. What do you know, big boy?” she cooed seductively.

“I… I don’t have to listen to this!” said a rattled Wentworth. Then a black shadow fell across his face in the glow of the signs and streetlights. The caped figure above loomed menacingly. Wentworth gasped. “The Batman! I’ll talk! I’ll turn state’s evidence. I’ll show you the flaws myself! Just don’t let him hurt me. I heard he tossed a guy off a roof back in 1939!”

Phantom Lady smiled and led Wentworth to the plant. From above, Black Condor folded his hastily rigged cape and smiled. The mystique of the Bat carries a real weight around this city, he mused.

***

He and Phantom Lady walked through the deserted factory that night after Wentworth obliged them with his tour. “This place is a deathtrap. No wonder Smythe fears my environmental bill. It would shut him down fast,” said the Black Condor. Sandy nodded.

Then a glowing hood appeared, and Shiner stood above them. “You again?” he yelled. “Must you haunt my every move? This time I’ll slay you personally!”

“Give it up, Cranston Smythe,” said Black Condor. “Wentworth spilled his guts. We know all about you.”

“I hope that knowledge is a source of comfort to you on your final journey out of this life!” said the Shiner, running forward, causing the radiation from his mask to begin to weaken them again.

“Not going to work, though. We came prepared!” said Phantom Lady as she made her way toward him in her cumbersome shielded costume.

The Black Condor wore a heavy tarp as well. They knew the shielding would diminish his energy-draining power. The Black Condor flew toward him, and Shiner fled in fear when he saw that the mask’s energies did not hurt his foe.

“I’ll pay you — anything! Just leave me be!” he screamed, racing over a high platform.

Phantom Lady climbed the railing and walked precariously across the thin metal beam like a ballerina. She dropped down in Shiner’s path, and with her invisibility ray working, she was unseen. Shiner fell over her outstretched leg and hit the metal ground.

Black Condor dropped down to rip the mask free and expose Cranston Smythe’s features. “This ends here,” he said. “I see no need to prolong this.”

Smythe begged for mercy, then tossed himself over the edge of a vat. The Black Condor flew for him but was too slow.

“He fell in the chemical disposal unit that leads to Gotham River,” said Black Condor sadly. “I can only assume he’s a dead man. No sign of a body.”

Phantom Lady joined him. “We did our best. Don’t let one political crook sour you on politics as a whole. Daddy has seen a lot of filth, but he still loves the system.”

Black Condor watched the still waters behind the factory. “You’re right. I won’t let Smythe end Tom Wright’s dreams,” he said as they walked out.

“Hope we can work together again,” she said.

“I do, too. Both being based in D.C., we’re sure to run into one another. Maybe we could even form a team with other D.C. mystery-men and mystery-women,” he said with a smile.

“Yeah, like Wonder Woman,” she said.

“True. We’d be real freedom fighters with her along in that star-spangled uniform,” he said, grinning.

The End

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