The Washington, DC office of the Freedom Fighters is a large room, but the furniture is arranged to divide it into smaller, more relaxing areas. There are small groupings of comfortable couches and chairs. The work area is dominated by a large circular table, with enough seating spaces to accommodate a sextet of mysterymen. The table is white, with forty-eight blue stars illuminating the circumference of the circle and the center, in blue, decorated with the logo of the Freedom Fighters. To the right of the entrance is a framed picture containing the patriotic logo of the Quality corporation. The wall to the left sports a series of windows which look down on the heart of the city. Along the far end of the room are six marble busts on small pedestals, which represented the visages of the Invisible Hood, Magno, Miss America, Neon, and the Red Torpedo. The opposite corner of the room contains a filing cabinet with the team's archives, on which is a bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Midnight opens a small bag of mail he got from the mail drop. Most of it seems to be suspicious-looking letters for Phantom Lady, and the occasional postcard for Uncle Sam. "Hey, I actually got something!"
Plastic Man stretches his neck out, looping around the room to peer over Midnight's shoulder. His nose twitches over it. "Doesn't smell like perfume. Too bad."
Midnight hands the envelope over to his monkey sidekick Gabby, who gleefully tears into it, handing the letter over to his friend. Midnight furrows his brow as he reads. "It's from someone named Old King Kole threatening a New York crime wave unless I stop him."
Quicksilver blinks. "And old arch enemy of yours?"
"I have never heard of Old King Kole," Midnight shrugs. "And no false modesty here while I may have my own radio show, I'm hardly the most famous of the Freedom Fighters, or even the most famous mysteryman in New York City."
Quicksilver says, "How about the I reconnoitre?"
"Good idea Quicksilver," Midnight says. "You could probably spot these guys, radio us if you see anything suspicious."
Quicksilver says, "I'm outta here."
*>BZKZT<* Quicksilver radios: "Hello? Is this on?"
*>BZKZT<* Plastic Man radios: "I hear you, Quicksilver. Find anything...?"
*>BZKZT<* Quicksilver radios: "There seems to be a problem, here on Wall Street and Broadway."
Gabby hops up on Midnight's shoulder as the man loads his gun. "You heard the man.".
The street corner is heavy with Greek architecture, from the temple-like facade of the Stock Exchange to the Doric columns of the Federal Hall National Memorial. Cordoned off by an alert police force is the Betsy & Me Jewellery Shop; a barred window looks in on an impressive display of gemstones and jewellery.
Quicksilver says, "When I came up here, I noticed a gang of obvious villains holding up the jewellery store, customers on the floor."
"Look at that." The police officer who seems to be in charge approaches the Freedom Fighters. "Honest patrons being robbed and now we have fugitives from a Gilbert and Sullivan opera showing up."
Midnight looks in through the window. "You pegged it right Quicksilver ... my god." He draws his .45.
"My name's Sergeant Clancy," the officer says. "Hostages...This could be difficult."
"Perhaps it would be better to utilize multiple approaches?" Plastic Man suggests.
"I just don't want to see civilian hurt," Quicksilver says. "You want me to try and get some of them out?"
"Shall we go in through the front door?" Midnight says. "They came here to get me ... I don't think they care about the hostages."
Upon entering they discover that the storefront of the shop is very deceptive in its simplicity. The shop seems to have quite high quality merchandise. And even if the prices are high the merchandise seems well worth the cost. As well as the glass enclosed display in the front window there are display cases in a horseshoe shaped arrangement with the open end facing the front window. Each of the cases has a large selection of watches, rings, bracelets and other jewellery as well as displaying some uncut gems.
Currently, seated behind the main counter, is a large and greatly rotund man sporting a great white beard, with a pipe in his mouth and carrying a copper bowl. Ransacking the store are a trio of men nattily attired in black suits: the first wears a half-red and half-blue mask and cowl which completely conceals his features, the second is clean-shaven and has shining silver hair, and the third wears a black mask and cowl with an attached visor which covers his eyes.
"Ah, Midnight, I see you brought some friends with you. Please allow me to introduce myself I am Old King Kole and these are my well, we can call them my fiddlers three, eh? Mr Red, Mr Silver, and Mr Black." He takes his pipe and begins to run it along the rim of his copper bowl, causing a ringing sound which pulses throughout the shop.
Midnight says, "Don't bother hunting for me, rats! I'm right here -- and coming at you!" He draws a bead on Mr Red with his sleep-dart gun. "You're dead meat, Red! I'm gonna shoot you right between the eyes!" Mr Red reaches into his coat him and pulls out a boomerang which he tosses directly at Midnight's hand, dislodging his gun.
Quicksilver rushes the hostages out through the door behind the displays which leads to the back room where the work is done. He turns to engage in battle but Mr Silver intercepts with a sweeping tackle, matching him speed for speed, and the pair begin a superfast gymnastic battle racing around the circumference of the room.
Plastic Man shakes his head, and tries to lasso Mr Black with his arm in the shape of a rope only to find his opponent rise into the air like a comet and blast him with rays from his visor. "You jerk!" Plas says as he narrowly evades the blast, but manages to loop a second arm-lasso around Mr Black's ankle, pulling him back and sending him crashing to the ground.
Gabby goes after Old King Kole. "I dunno who you are shorty, but nobody goes after my boss without me given' 'em what for!" The King pushes a button on his belt ... and suddenly a force-field springs around him. Gabby bounces off to no effect.
Old King Kole lowers his force-field for a fraction of a second, and uses a bean shooter to send a capsule into Plastic Man's gaping mouth before he can make more progress with his lasso. Plastic Man shrinks down to much smaller size and wails, "It's not faiw!" Then starts balling at the top of his lungs, his little body quivering.
Quicksilver begins to fear his opponent may be faster than he is, but gambles he is not as athletic. He diverts his attentions to Mr Red, catching a ride on his boomerang on its way back and slamming the man on the jaw. Midnight returns the favour, one of his sleep darts catching Mr Silver by surprise and knocking him unconscious.
Gabby bounces over to Baby Plas. "There there .. there there ... " Plas stops crying as suddenly as he started, and pats Gabby on the head, giggling under his breath, smiling at him, oblivious to the hubbub surrounding them. "Pretty monkey...."
Old King Kole flips a switch on his belt-buckle; suddenly the force-field reverses polarity, and the Freedom Fighters find themselves encased within a translucent bubble. Midnight tries to feel out the boundaries of the force-field. Quicksilver tries to pound the side of the field open with some punches worthy of his father, the circus strongman. Baby Plas grabs Gabby's hands and proceeds to dance around with him, laughing happily.
Old King Kole laughs. "Clever, no? A force-field from which only ordinary light and sound will escape ... but into which anything will pass." Mr Red throws another boomerang at Midnight , for an example, and it careens around the inside of the bubble while the pair contort wildly try to avoid getting hit.
Mr Silver says, "And we have a special surprise for you jerks, don't we boss?" Old King Kole nods, and uncovers ... the bomb! "If anyone attempts to tamper with this, it will explode ... of course, it will anyway. Too bad the force of the blast will pass into the force field and is enough to blow the pair of you to kingdom come."
Gabby dances with Baby Plas for a bit, then tries to gently ease him somewhere safe. Midnight yells, "Gabby!" and mutters something about how slow the monkey is.
Old King Kole walks up to the bomb and says, "Start time" and the clock on it starts to count down automatically. He waves. "Au revoir, Freedom Fighters. It was nice to meet your little friends, Midnight."
Baby Plas dances with the cute little monkey, then spins wildly in a circle till they both fall down, at which point, she laughs loudly! The villains start to leave, when suddenly, Gabby leaps up and lands on Old King Kole's shoulder, departing with them. The bomb counts down ... tick ... tick ... tick ...
Midnight shouts, "GABBY!" Baby Plas watches Gabby leap away, "Monkey?"
"But anyone can enter the bubble, apparently," Quicksilver muses. "Could Plas smash it from inside??"
Baby Plas watches the villains leave, and walks slowly up to the exit, looking sadly after them. There is a slight tremor in his voice, "Monkey?"
"Better not chance it," Midnight says, " once he enters it he'd just be trapped with us, no?"
"What happens if he sticks a hand in?" Quicksilver asks. "Can he pull it out? Can he pull one of us out with it? Maybe we could get the little tyke in a tantrum and shatter the bubble."
tick ... tick ... tick ...
Midnight gets down on one knee, looking as charming as possible, and holds a hand out to Baby Plas. "Hey there, kiddo..." Baby Plas sees the inviting smile, and his smile grows wide and runs toward the outstretched hand, seeing a potential playmate. Midnight smiles encouragingly. "That's it, Plas!" Then he oopses, and falls down! "Plas, can you pull me up?"
Baby Plas trundles into the bubble and tries to help Midnight, turning one arm into a crane and picking him up off the ground with one little hand in his belt, "Hee! Man fall down!"
Quicksilver agrees, looking disappointed, "Man fall down. Plas pull man out of bubble?" Baby Plas starts dragging Midnight out of the bubble, laughing, until his back hits the bubble, and he drops him again. He turns around, and flattens a hand on the invisible bubble wall. Baby Plas whacks the bubble with one hand, then yells, "Ow! Stupid..." He starts hitting it more, and soon is pounding away with both little fists as hard as he can, a full out tantrum developing.
"I'm trying to figure this out," Midnight sighs. "It was voice-activated, wasn't it? Maybe there could be some way to voice DE-activate at least the bomb? What would the code word be ... something like ... 'Stop time' maybe?"
tick ... tick ... pfoot.
The bomb stops ticking when Midnight says 'Stop time.' The time reads 12.00 seconds exactly. The force field clicks off. Quicksilver takes a deep breath and looks at Midnight.
Baby Plas continues pounding and kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs at the bubble until it vanishes, then he crashes onto the floor. Slowly pushing himself up, he looks around, completely confused. "Where's my monkey?" he says, curiously..
Midnight walks over to the bomb and examines it carefully. Midnight says "There's a note." He unfolds the piece of paper. "It's a map. There's an 'X.' Under the old Callahan Carnival."
Quicksilver says, "Okay, now I'm beginning to feel like we're being led on a wild goose chase. How about we look in on some of those old carnies?"
Midnight hrms, "Well ... somebody is clearly expecting us."
Baby Plas looks up at Midnight, "Monkey is at carnival?" "Yes sweetie," Midnight replies, "we are going to get the monkey"
Quicksilver volunteers for baby-sitting duty by grinning and holding his arms out to the child. "Up?" Baby Plas turns into a sphere and bounces into Quicksilver's arms, nearly knocking him over as he impacts into him chest, and hugs him as if he forgot he was there but is glad he's back. Quicksilver laughs, staggering, and hugs back. "Yeah, you can call me Max; that's my name."
Baby Plas chortles, and starts to play with Quicksilver's face with his free hand, the other holding onto his shoulder, "Max!" Quicksilver grins, "That's me. Let's go, kiddo."
Later, the two and a half men skulk into the abandoned Callahan Carnival. Quicksilver had returned to his secret lair to don an earlier, abandoned costume of his, one less detectable under cover of darkness. Midnight accompanies him carrying both his .45 and his secret vacuum gun. Baby Plas, nestled within a sling around Quicksilver's shoulder, watches all with wide-open eyes.
Silently, Midnight refers once more to the map he carries, pointing to the building which holds the carnival's electrical generators.
Baby Plas whispers, "We go on rides?" Quicksilver shakes his head, "Some bad men have turned all the rides off. We need to stop them so we can go on the rides now." Baby Plas scowls deeply. "Bad mans!" he whispers in acknowledgement.
As they approach the electrical building, Quicksilver sets Baby Plas down gently. "You be good now baby, and we'll come get you soon." Baby Plas sets his thumb in his mouth and nods solemnly.
Midnight opens a window, and fires the vacuum gun straight at Mr Black. The man steps back in surprise as the suction cup attaches to his chest, and then Midnight retracts it, pulling himself along to land on the man, slamming him to the floor. Quicksilver crashes through from the opposite side while the trio are distracted, catching Mr Silver from behind with a powerful blow.
Mr Red's boomerang catches Midnight on the skull, knocking off his fedora. "You ruined off my hat!" Midnight scowls. "That was a good hat!" He leaps at Mr Red and the two begin to struggle. Midnight starts to get the upper hand when a blast of sheer kinetic force strikes down from above.
"You should have stayed home in the nursery with your little plastic friend," Mr Black said. Quicksilver found his speed not close to the energy generated by the flying man's eyes, and the pair desperately tried to evade his attack.
The table they'd been hiding behind disintegrates, and Mr Black hovers, ready for the kill, when a powerful blow to the back causes him to misdirect his blast. "Bad mans!" Baby Plas shrieks, having molded his body into a ball and begun to bounce furiously between Mr Black and the ceiling. The elastic infant continues shrieking while he hammers Mr Black to the ground, soon to be finished off by Quicksilver.
Midnight growls as Old King Kole and Gabby enter the room. "You two!" He fires a sleep dart directly at the King's belt buckle, shorting out his belt, and knocking him backwards. "What's going on here? Who are you??" He turns towards the monkey. "And you, you ... traitor!" Gabby hides, while Midnight walks up to Old King Kole, and yanks off his mask, to reveal ... Doc Wackey!
Midnight gasps, "Doc!" Doc Wackey nods. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a vial. "This will return your friend to his original state. I'm sorry for all the trouble Midnight, but it was something I had to do."
Quicksilver furrows his brow. "Had to do??" He looks at the vial. Not another tantrum, he thinks.
"Well, that explains why Gabby acted the way he did," Midnight says. "But why, Doc?"
"Mister Silver ... as he calls himself now ... is ... my son!" Doc Wackey says, "Even though you offered me a second chance, Midnight, he sought to follow my original path to villainy."
Midnight sighs. "If your son is such a stinker, couldn't you have slipped him a mickey in the form of those baby pills? Started over, like?"
Doc Wackey says, "He ... had ... some papers ... that ... I didn't want public ... I was afraid of what the assembled forces would do, but I also didn't want him hurt ... that's why I went along with them, but did my best to make sure that you all were left a way to escape."
Midnight says "Doc, you could have just told me," Midnight says. "We would have worked something out"
Doc Wackey shrugs, "I'm sorry Midnight ... I guess maybe you're right."
Gabby walks over to Midnight carefully. "Boss? Are we friends again?" Midnight sighs, and picks up the monkey. "Yes Gabby, we're friends again."
Quicksilver walks over to the pint-size powerhouse. "Here, hon, I need you to drink this..."
Baby Plas ews! "Go away, Max! I don' want med'cine!"
Gabby says, "It's not medicine. It's soda. You like soda, dontcha?" He leaps up and grabs the vial from Quicksilver. He pretends to drink some. "Num nums!" he says, and then offers it to Baby Plas. "Nummers!"
Quicksilver makes a show of trying to confiscate the vial. "He's way too little for such a good drink. It's strictly for grownups!"
Baby Plas looks around at all the big people, then snatches it from Gabby, "Monkey gave it to me!" She drinks it all up!
Gabby beams when Midnight gives him a thumb's up. Quicksilver sighs with relief, but is still holding his breath at what might happen.
Plastic Man grows back to his usual size, and looks about disconcertedly, frowning a little
Quicksilver's eyes widen. "Um, how ... do you feel?"
"I have a horrible taste in my mouth," Plas says, extending his tongue out a meter to examine it closely, then snapping it back into his mouth. "What took place...was I unconscious?"
Quicksilver stifles a snort of laughter. "Um ... not ... well ... uh, yes."
Doc Wackey waits for the authorities. "I have called the police."
Midnight pats Doc on one shoulder. "Doc ... you'll come with me. It's ok." Doc Wackey nods. "Thank you, Midnight."
Midnight, Plastic Man, and Quicksilver were all Quality Comics characters drawn by Jack Cole (although the last was only for one story). Doc Wackey was indeed a villain in his first appearance, and utilised a formula which turned people into babies (so honestly, Midnight ought to have figured out his identity earlier). 'Baby Plas' was named after Plastic Man's son from his television cartoon series.
Carnie Callahan was the main character in Cole's later series, The Barker.
King Kole was the tile of a Jack Cole humor strip, and his fiddlers three represent Cole's most popular early superhero creations:
Mister Red = Daredevil (not created but reinvented by Cole)
Mister Silver = Silver Streak
Mister Black = the Comet