by Erwin K. Roberts
(c)2014 Robert E. Kennedy

Target Comics volume 1 number 1 was dated February 1940. Some real comic book legends contributed to the early issues. Carl Burgos, creator of Marvel's original Human Torch, kicked in another android hero: The White Streak. Bill Everett, of Sub-Mariner fame, also popped up in Target. His work sometimes appeared in Bulls-Eye Bill Target's stories of life on his contemporary Target Ranch. With the exception of Bulls-Eye Bill and the G-2 aviator Lucky Byrd, none of the characters in the first issue lasted two years. Those two, like most long lasting features in Target, would have been right at home in the pulps.

Soon new characters were added. In volume 1 number 6 the Chameleon signed on. Shades of the Phantom Detective, the Crimson Mask, Secret Agent X and a few others. The Chameleon could disguise himself as anyone. Revealed as the heir of one of the oldest fortunes in the country, Pete Stockbridge started out mostly touring the country in search of crooks to bust. Later he became publisher of the newspaper he owned. During World War Two he ended up working in Nazi occupied France. With the war over he returned to busting mostly domestic crooks. The Chameleon racked up about eighty-five stories in Target Comics. Now read his first prose adventure since 1941.

+++

Pete Stockbridge paced the floor of his study of this old family mansion. This continued for some time.

On a rise over a quarter of a mile away Floyd Hartline lay on a thick pad of waterproofed folded canvas. Through very powerful binoculars he watched Stockbridge's every move. Floyd wore Army surplus arctic gear against the single digit cold. An additional canvas tarp, painted to look like dead leaves, covered him. Snug beside him lay a Browning thirty-ought-six bolt action rifle rigged for sniping. He continued to watch his target, as he had for the past three nights.

Through the binoculars he saw Stockbridge pause in his pacing. He began to reach for the rifle. Then the man snatched up a pad of paper and a pencil. The pacing resumed. Every now and then he paused to write down what could not be more than a handful of words. The watching man speculated that Stockbridge was making notes for an editorial for the newspaper that he owned and published. He could not have been more wrong.

Pete Stockbridge finally paused to look at the ruled page full of scribbles and crossed out words. He pulled out a mechanical pencil with two ends. With the red lead he drew several lines connecting various notes. He paced a bit more before scratching out some words and numbering other bits of text with the blue lead. Then he headed for his Remington typewriter by the large window. He glanced out. Almost dark, he thought. He lit the desk lamp as he sat before the machine.

On that rise Floyd Hartline cased his binoculars in favor of the already focused telescope attached above the weapon's barrel.

After a couple of false starts and crumpled sheets of typing paper with carbon copy flimsies, he hit his stride. Two minutes later his entire concentration focused on the letters appearing on the typewriter's platen. He wrote:

The first month of nineteen-forty-seven is now gone. What will I do? What should I do?

I grew up rich. I never wanted for any material thing. But that same wealth limited my ability to get to know people and to make true friends. In college I learned the art of makeup and disguise from the Theater Department, then taught myself and invented even more.

Outside the "Halls of Ivy" I saw the true hardship caused by the Great Depression. Money, as much as I was allowed to pull from my trust funds, helped some people. But I could not help all the honest people devastated through no fault of their own.

Walking among the poor I also soon saw those who preyed like vultures on those hurt. In disguise I began to prey upon the predictors. Unfortunately, not all of those filthy predators actually broke the law. My actions, though moral in my mind, soon caused me all kinds of trouble with the law. I became known as "The Chameleon" by cops, crooks and reporters. Unlike the Moon Man in Great City, I did not have to steal from the rich or crooked to help people in need. I turned that part of my mission to knowledgeable and honest men and women.

The Chameleon began going after people who lived on the edge of the law and beyond. That work became quietly noted in some interesting places. As the Second World War neared the F.B.I. . . .

Assured by the look of fierce concentration on his target's face Floyd Hartline chambered a round in his rifle. He looked at some branches illuminated by streetlights and the lights of the estate. Nearly dead calm. He placed the cross-hairs of the pre-calibarated scope right between his target's eyes. Taking in a breath, he let out half of it. Ever so slowly he let his finger tighten on the trigger. As is supposed to happen the weapon's discharge surprised him a bit. He rode out the recoil to reacquire his target.

Stockbridge was not visible. Not surprising. The impact of the round would have thrown him backwards, chair and all. Then it hit him. The windowpane had not shattered as it should have. No glass was visible on the typing table. No shards remained in the frame. Floyd squinted through the scope. Suddenly he realized the glass was all there with a spiderweb of cracks. Except for a black dot right in front of the target's eyes.

Floyd froze for all of three seconds. Then he became a blur of motion. He crammed his canteen, his rations, and all the canvas into a Duluth pack of the same material. He did not take time to chamber a new shell in the rifle. Instead he threw the Duluth on his back, slung the rifle on his left shoulder and drew a Colt .45 automatic from his belt holster. Only then did he hurry toward his car half a mile away.

Before Floyd covered one hundred yards, a voice colder than the air he passed through froze him in his tracks.

"Nice shot, mister. Now drop the guns! You'll not get a second shot at me."

"It ain't possible!" breathed Floyd. "Not possible!"

"You think you're the first one to try this? My family calls this place Snipers Hill. Some Anarchist took a shot at my Great-Great-Uncle during the Spanish-American War from the same place. Was too far for a Winchester-73. A German agent tried with a better rifle right before we entered World War One. My Great-Uncle put in a tunnel out to here that only opens from the inside. I've got you lit up like a Christmas tree with a sniper-scope. Put down your weapons, or I'll try to shoot them off you!"

Floyd, his mind rushing in all directions, let the rifle slide to the ground. He squatted a bit as he put down the Colt Model 1911. As he stood back up he shucked off the Duluth pack. As the canvas envelope passed in front of his body he yanked out a .38 automatic from a jacket pocket. A split second later he blazed away into the area the voice came from. After three shots something slammed into his chest like a sledge hammer.

The last sounds Floyd Hartline heard were Pete Stockbridge saying, "Dammit! I didn't want to do that."

+++

"What do you think, guys?" Pete said as he sat once again at his typewriter.

"The guy was right on target," mused Tommy Brown.

Dave Foster knelt and squinted along the bullet's centerline. "Top drawer marksman."

"Marine sniper in the Pacific Theater," replied Pete.

Niles Reed, the forth man in the room stood back a bit to take the whole scene in. "That monster sheet of bulletproof glass is far from new. You weren't freshly expecting trouble, were you, Pete?"

"Not hardly, Niles. I always loved this view when I visited growing up. The place had blackout curtains for as long as I could remember. When I moved in, as the owner, I wasn't about to close the view off just to feel a little safer. Had to reinforce the sill and wall, but the glass'll stop anything this side of a bazooka round."

"Obviously, if you yourself shot the sniper, things were prepared in advance," replied Niles. "The floor has not been cleaned or buffed since the incident. This section must be your exit. The dust around it is telling."

"Good eye, as always, my friend. The Butler maintains the stuff in the tunnel. Everything's always charged and prepped. I dived out of my chair as soon a I realized the window'd been hit. Pulled this hidden cord. See, the floor comes up and aside. I slid down the chute into the tunnel. A holstered gun, sniper-scope spotlight, infrared goggles and even a Mackinaw were ready to go. One thing I hadn't thought of was boots. About froze my toes off in carpet slippers."

As chuckles from the three ended Pete added, "Obviously somebody's keeping a close eye on me. If I disappear they'll know the Chameleon is on the prowl. That's one reason I asked you three for help. Only the Chief of the local Police Department and the Coroner know about the incident. I, that is, the Chameleon helped flush a couple of bad apples out of the force. They agreed to keep things quiet for a few days. Let's get down to the paper. We'll pick out a story for the Trouble Shooters Agency to be officially investigating."

Niles Reed insisted on driving the team's company Studebaker sedan downtown. Tommy and Dave flipped a quarter for the shotgun seat. Pete ended up riding in back with Tommy. He noted that as soon as the vehicle left his estate the two other passengers pulled dentist's mirrors out of their jacket pockets. These they used to secretly observe the roads behind them.

"Somebody just pulled out of that recessed gated drive on my left," said Niles, at the wheel.

"Understood," came the in unison reply.

"Seems to be taking his time," said Dave a minute later. He then took a small monocular viewer from under his right shoulder. Noting Pete's interest he added, "Has a prism, like binoculars, gives an effective magnification of twenty-five times. I won't turn around to use it unless a car acts suspicious."

The Studebaker soon left the grouping of estates for an area of hilly farm fields. Pete remarked that most of the area would soon be subdivided for tract homes. The following car pulled slowly up behind them. They passed a farm road then descended into a small valley. As they reached the bottom a large panel truck crested the hill in front of them.

"Possible box-in. . ." warned Niles Reed just an instant too late.

Boxed in they were. The panel truck skidded to a halt across both lanes near the top of the hill. The following sedan topped the hill to do the same thing at a distance of over seventy-five feet.

"The ditches!" yelled Pete. That was as far as he got before Tommy grabbed his feet and yanked him down on the floorboards. He sprawled across the drive-train hump as something thick and extremely heavy suddenly covered him. He barely heard the rear door open and close before the Studie roared into motion.

Even before the Chameleon yelled his assessment of the situation Niles Reed flipped his black fedora to the bench seat. From under his shirt collar he yanked something up over his head. By the time Pete's face disappeared from the rearview mirror he'd decided on his course of action. First he pushed a button that rolled down all the car's side windows.

The car sat on a slight upgrade. Niles slammed down the clutch peddle to take the car out of gear. As they began to slowly roll backward he pulled a hidden lever that Studebaker's original engineers never heard of. At the same time he guided the rear of the car to his left. The slamming of two of the car's four doors told him that his friends were ready. Just them pairs of men with Thompson sub-machine guns rose from the ditches on either side of the road.

As they rose Niles revved the engine until the tachometer he'd installed almost red-lined. A split second later he popped the clutch in a practiced maneuver. The Studebaker sprang forward before the gunmen finished standing. On the running-boards Dave and Tommy fired their heavy automatics at the armed men. Niles smiled grimly. Only in the comic book version of their cases were the three troubleshooters unarmed.

Tommy blazed away at the the two on the right side of the road. One man folded as a .45 traversed his neck to sever his spine. The second man got off half a dozen rounds before the Studie's fender sent him sprawling. On the other side of the car, one arm locked around the window post as he fired, Dave's bullets clipped one gunsel and sent the other back into the ditch firing as he fell. Both men hung on for dear life as the car flew over the ditch to dig its wheels into the headland of the farm field. Mud and stubble flew from under the front wheels as the rear of the sedan bounced onto the ground.

As the car roared away from the road Dave finished emptying his magazine at the men with guns that had jumped out of the panel truck. The rolling terrain of the field quickly put the gunmen out of sight. Niles slowed to let Dave and Tommy get back inside. He did not actually stop.

"Aw, Hell!" exclaimed Tommy just after he landed in his seat.

"You hurt?"

"Only my pride, Niles. That low-life hit my fountain pen. Got ink all over every layer."

Then an angry muffled voice said, "Will somebody please get me out of here!"

A moment later Pete Stockbridge looked out on the corn stubble rolling past the car. "Judas Priest!" he exclaimed. "Its cold in here."

A moment later the side windows reappeared.

As he adjusted the heater Niles asked, "No chance of keeping this quiet now, Pete. Any idea who's this mad at you?"

+++

Two hours later, at the regional State Police Barracks, Pete spoke with the commanding officer.

"We found a few shell casings, footprints, tire tracks and some bloodstains at the site. Everything else was gone. Pretty good cleanup, given the time they had. But Mr. Stockbridge, you want me to believe that after two extremely different attempts on your life you have no idea who could be behind them?"

"Captain, the problem is I got way too many possible candidates. As the Chameleon, in the early days, I went after what the military calls targets of opportunity. I'd go into a town and see something that got my dander up. I don't remember how many states I operated in off the top of my head. Some of the low-lifes I helped put away back then might be out of jail by now. Later I started taking 'suggestions' from the FBI. Any number of bundists, brown shirts or outright Nazis could have a grudge against me. Those still alive, anyway. Then, in forty-one, I got called home to take over the family business. Since I started taking an active hand at the paper I've verbally tarred and feathered any number of high living low-lifes. And I'm just getting started on the punks working with or for the Soviets.

"After last evening's attack I did two things. First I called in my old friends who managed to save me from this morning's ambush. Second, I called the paper last night. The City Editor and the Morgue Manager are combing through my history looking for those still alive and/or recently released crooks and subversives who might want another shot at me. By now they'll also have Frank Havens of the Clarion Newspaper Chain involved in the hunt. Plus, when I get downtown, we'll go over my recent activities with a fine tooth comb. Give me your teletype's station number and I'll send you a copy of the reports."

"I must admit," replied Captain Matthews, as he paced the small conference room, "that I had not thought about your work being in that many arenas."

"And that's just on the wrong side of the tracks, Captain. On the supposed good side I have a number of relatives who seem to feel entitled to the soft life. On my dime, when their annual stipends aren't enough. One of them might resent that I try to make them do something remotely useful with some of their time. I vote huge blocks of stock in major corporations. My opinions on the behavior and misbehavior of executives carries a lot of weight. I demand good corporate citizenship. That gets some people pretty mad. Plus I could go and on about how I get condemned as both a fascist and a socialist for my political views. Some fun, huh?"

"I get a headache just thinking about it. Now, Mr. Reed, thankfully you three are fully credentialed to operate in this area. My technicians should have test fired your weapons by now. Just remember, a gunfight in an empty corn field is a lot different than one in a town or city where bystanders can get hurt."

"Believe me," said Niles Reed, "the boys and I are well aware of the differences. And thank you very much for the use of your uniform dry cleaning setup. Now Tommy won't attract too much attention until we can get back to the hotel and our luggage."

"You're more than welcome, Mr. Reed. I believe we crossed paths before Pearl Harbor. I will not say a word to anyone about who I think you might be."

Five minutes later a uniformed Trooper escorted Pete and Niles to the garage. There they found that Dave had managed to wash the Studebaker. He now polished a few places where Pete remembered there being bullet holes. A moment later Tommy joined them. From the Studie's trunk he produced a case full of fabric and sewing gear. He threaded a needle as the vehicle left the State Police compound.

"You guys are full of surprises," said Pete. "No wonder you insisted on using your car. Four-wheel drive, some kind of armor and who knows. You don't happen to have a spare set of your long underwear I could borrow?"

"'Fraid not, Pete. Three's all there are. And all that's likely to be, ever."

"Really! I thought you offered them to the War Department."

"I met with General Marshall, unofficially. He said there were two problems, cost and shortages. I spent nearly five thousand dollars each on just the raw materials for ours. In college I specialized in studying the Rare Earth metals. Those have always been scarce. My flexible alloy used five different ones. By the time I met with the General I could not obtain a couple of them, at any price. Not privately, anyway. Since the war ended I discovered that at least one of those elements was vital to the Manhattan Project. There you have it."

"And how!" replied Pete.

+++

"What about that hypnotist that used to keep sneaking out of jail almost as soon as you got him locked up?" said Tommy as he stirred his freshly poured coffee in the newspaper's meeting room.

"You mean Barnes?" replied Pete. "Sure did seem like a revolving door for a while. Finally he got sent to the state's maximum security lockup. They sewed him into a screaming red uniform and told all the guards to shoot him from a distance if he got outside his boundaries."

"And that held him?" asked Dave.

"For a bit. But he came up with a plan. He somehow managed to meet all the guards scheduled for a specific shift. He planted a post-hypnotic suggestion that they would not see him on that day. Came the day and he walked right out the front door, red union-suit and all."

"Wow! So has he been seen since?"

"No, Tommy, but not for the reason you may be thinking. Turned out he din't know one guard got food poisoning the night before. They called in a replacement at the last minute. He was stationed on one of the towers by the main entrance. He shot Barnes dead before he finished crossing the street."

Before the other three could react Pete noticed the unmistakeable shadow of the senior pressman on the pebbled glass of the room's door.

"What's up, Clancy?" he asked as he opened the door.

"Say, boss, the cops on watch outside just tipped me off that they've run off half a dozen suspicious characters. Guys hanging around the block and a couple on roofs. One had an Associated Press card an' a couple others're local reporters. Even one from that new television station that opened last week. We're keeping our eyes peeled, too."

"Thanks, Clancy," told the the huge fireplug of a man. "But you, and your Union brothers, don't take any chances, yourselves. These guys are pros who'll shoot first, fast and often. You get suspicious of something let the cops, or Mr. Reed here, know. Call the number in this morning's bulletin. Dora's crew will see that you reach him, or his men. Got that?"

"Got it, boss. But you keep that red head of yours down!"

"Wow," breathed Dave as the door clicked shut. "I'm glad that man-mountain's on our side."

"You and me, both," replied Pete. "When you get to know Clancy you find out he's about the most peaceable fellow you'll ever meet. But, get him stoked up, and watch out!"

Tommy spoke up, "He mentioned other papers. Didn't you have trouble with, what was it… the Crier?"

"Lord, yes!" replied Pete. "The publisher, Felix Dort, turned out to be one of those rich guys who thought the law shouldn't apply to him. He organized kids gangs to terrorize the whole city. While all the adults, me included, ran around in circles my ward Ragsy infiltrated the gangs. Then when Dort targeted the Star he organized all the newsies in town against them. Things came to a head about two months after Pearl Harbor. Dort died in prison less than a year after that."

"Did he have any family?" asked Niles.

"I think a son. Was out of the country, or something. Let me call Robb in the Morgue…" said Pete as he picked up the phone. A couple of minutes later he continued, "Robb says the son's name's Lyman Purlieu Dort. Finished college in the spring of 1941 and went off the see the parts of the world not actively shooting at everything in sight. Made it out of Asia proper after December seventh. Got interned in the Philippians. Broke out somehow. Supposed to have joined the resistance for the duration. No reports of him being dead, but no current or recent location, either."

"For any number of reasons, that's worth looking into," remarked Niles Reed.

"Before we get started on that," said Dave, "where is Ragsy? Off at school, or something?"

"Yes, and no," replied Pete with a chuckle. "'Bout two weeks ago the Professor taught Ragsy about the Northern Lights. Next thing I know they headed up to the Yukon Territory for a combination science and history field trip. Seems the Prof knew a retired Mountie named, what was it. . . Oh, Preston! They're staying with an Kwanlin Dun village. Anybody that tries to find them up there will stand out a mile. Plus Prof's tougher than most men half his age. Might as well try taking a cub away from momma Grizzly. I'm not worried, on that score."

In the twenty-four hours that followed records got searched, stoolies got rousted, pavement got pounded and heads got scratched. The local Police Department and regional FBI office found nothing new, but they did eliminate any number of possibilities. Pete Stockbridge and the three Trouble Shooters met again as evening approached. Tommy Brown took the floor.

"I'm thinking that Lyman Dort may be our man. In the service I spent quite a bit of time in the Philippians. Learned enough of their Tagalog language to get by. That gives me an edge, 'cause most GI's didn't bother. I went over on the north side of town where there are a number of Filipino stores and restaurants. I found some guys that fought in the Resistance on the island of Luzon. One of them knew Dort.

"Dort fought all-in with the Resistance, but not for the reasons you and I would have. He barely tolerated most of the other fighters. Seemed to think they were beneath him. He expected rank and privilege. The only time he smiled was when he killed the Japanese who denied him that birthright. Scared the heck out of his own comrades. His group had some brig-birds that escaped Manila with him. At least a couple of them were wanted stateside.

"If what they say is true, he finally got home to discover about all of his inheritance gone to settle all the damage his father did to the city. Finally home, but by his standards he's got nothing. And Pete Stockbridge is the one who brought the old man down. Does that fit?"

"Like a glove, unfortunately," said Niles Reed, grimly. "Good work Tommy. I think we'd better prepare for the end game. Were you able to find a suitable place, Pete?"

"Yes, I did," replied the Chameleon. "The old Tension Envelope factory over by the river. Wasn't suited for war production and couldn't get paper enough to stay open. The four story place is surrounded by parking lots and scrubland. One of Ragsy's street friends gave it the once over today."

"Good! Now, who do you trust that's about my height and build?"

"Let me think… Sure, Robb, the Morgue Manager would do. 'Cept he's about twenty years older than you."

"That shouldn't be a problem. We'll get started tonight . . . "

Niles Reed caught a plane to San Francisco the next afternoon. His associates Tomas Brown and David Foster assured the Chief of Police that additional precautions were being taken to assure Mr. Stockbridge's safety. One reporter "happened" to overhear that conversation. Naturally the story started spreading quickly.

Before noon the following day anybody watching the loading dock of the Star might have caught a glimpse of Pete Stockbridge being hurried into one of the newspaper's trucks that rode very low on its suspension. That truck, with a sedan front and rear, drove off. After some dodging around the small convoy passed through the gates of the Tension Envelope factory to disappear into the building. During the afternoon an electrical contractor tested and repaired all the lights on the grounds while city crews did the same for the area's streetlights. At dusk the lights came on. Three hours later an explosion rocked the electrical substation five blocks over. The entire area plunged into darkness.

Almost immediately a team of highly skilled warriors began to breach the Tension Envelope grounds. They cut or jammed up the chain-link fences on all four sides just enough to slither underneath. Faces blackened and wearing dull black clothing they blended well with the inky darkness. Their weapons and other gear reflected no light, either.

A couple of minutes later the intruders paused as they all heard a motor of some kind coaxed to life. Then some spotlights appeared at the windows of the forth floor. The resulting pools of light began sweeping the parking lots.

Following their battle plan the assault team either hurried toward the factory walls, or quickly spread canvas sheets that matched the pavement over their prone bodies. Within a couple of minutes they rallied in small groups on three sides of the huge building. Meanwhile the lights kept searching.

The three teams ignored the doors. Each selected a window. Dim red penlights assured the absence of alarms. Soon the windows were open. The ground floor seemed completely empty, except for the vehicles. The outside spotlights helped show that. Once they disabled the vehicles, each team headed for a different stairwell. The huge building had over a dozen. The three teams gave the second floor a quick once over. Also empty. They began to hear the throbbing of the generator above.

One member of each team headed silently up a stairwell to the third floor. Each returned shortly to report the third floor empty, but the stairs to the top floor were barricaded. The three teams inched up to the third floor. They met in an area where paper stocks once sat. Soon two men with explosives headed for distant stairwells to place their charges amid the barricades. The rest of the teams began quietly removing the blockage of the nearest stairwell.

The demo men returned trailing wires behind them. These they hooked up to a single plunger driven dynamo. The men prepared to hurl themselves over the remaining blockage at the local stairs. At a whispered command the handle of the plunger slammed home. Two muffled detonations sounded from either side of them. They began to move.

That's when every fixture on the third floor erupted with blinding light. None of the attackers saw the four men slide down ropes from the forth floor.

"Lyman Dort, surrender!" boomed the voice of the Chameleon. A moment later the attackers saw Pete Stockbridge standing atop a piece of printing machinery.

"Surrender, Hell!" screamed Dort as he loosed several rounds from an M1 Carbine.

The figure on the machine folded over to tumble to the floor. Dort grinned as he always did when an enemy died.

The grin instantly faded as the falling figure landed on his feet. A split second later the man shed his overcoat. Dort, and his men, froze at the sight revealed. The man with the red hair wore black leggings, gloves and a thick black belt. Except for the belt, his entire torso and arms were sheathed in bright yellow. Centered on his chest lay a four-ringed bullseye device. In a single motion the athletic man pulled a masked hood with a yellow crest over his head.

Dort heard Harley, his astonished second-in-command, exclaim, "Holly Hell, the Target!!"

That's when two other figures sprang into view. They wore the same outfit as the Target, except one replaced the yellow with red, the other with blue.

"The Targeteers, too!" yelled the lieutenant.

Dort, having been out of the country for most of the decade, screamed, "Kill them!"

Grabbing his leader's arm Harley said, "Boss, they're bulletproof!"

As he heard those words Dort watched as the Target ran straight at one of his men. At least five rounds discharged from the Colt automatic, but the Target ran straight through the deadly fire. Then a rock-like black gloved fist flattened the gunman.

The man in red dashed for another intruder. At the same time he threw some kind of dart at another. The dart sank into Prentice's arm. The man froze for a split second, then he fell like a string-cut marionette. Before Prentice finished falling the Targeteer reached his goal. Another armed man went flying. The one in blue, meanwhile, used a Ju-Jitsu throw on one man to take down a second. He felt Harley pulling on his arm.

"Boss, we've got to run!"

Dazed, Dort allowed himself to be dragged away. A couple of seconds later he sprinted with Harley for a distant stairwell. They came around the end of a row of machines. In their path stood a red haired man with a large automatic. Harley brought up his own weapon on the run. The redhead's piece spoke first. Harley toppled to the floor.

"Don't even think about it," came Pete Stockbridge's icy words.

As he came to a stop Dort growled, "You did this to me!"

"You did this to yourself, Dort." came the reply. "The court left your Trust intact so as not to punish the son for his father's crimes. That would have been enough for any man to get a good start, or even live on. But you wanted more. Now you can answer for your own crimes. Just like your father."

"Live? Live like a pauper? That's not living!" Dort raised his gun. Towards his own head. He felt a sharp pain in his hand as Pete's bullet passed through the back of his hand to send the pistol flying.

"No, you don't," said Pete. "You don't get the easy way out, you greedy coupon-clipper."

Dort writhed on the floor as the Chameleon wrapped the bleeding hand with a handkerchief. A moment later Tommy Foster ran up.

"Everything under control?" asked Pete.

"You bet! Hmmm. . . This one's alive, too. No bodies this time. Captain Matthews'll be happy."

"Seems the only thing much hurt will be my wallet. I'll probably end up paying for that electrical sub-station, since they didn't just blow the local transformer."

+++

Three days later Niles, Tommy and Dave again sat in Pete Stockbridge's study.

"Here's your check made out to the Trouble Shooters Agency. You're sure you can't stay on for a few more days?" said Pete Stockbridge as he lounged comfortably in a high-backed wing-chair.

"Sorry, Pete," replied Niles Reed, "but our Girl Friday says somebody, with money, has a hot case for us. We like to at least break even on the operation. Your check will allow us to handle a lot of Pro Bono stuff."

"You ever need my kind of help, you call."

"Of course, my friend. . ."

"Pete," broke in Dave as he pointed out the window, "you expecting a cab?"

"Not really," said Pete as he picked up a pair of binoculars. After a quick survey he continued, "Just sit tight, fellows. I think you'll enjoy this."

A few moments later a boy in his early teens arrowed into the office. He wore a heavy khaki outfit with high boots. He ran directly into a bear hug from Pete.

"Wow, did we have fun Pete. With the Prof's help I'm going to write some features for the Star about the Aurora and the people up there. We got lots of pictures and stuff… Oh, sorry, didn't know you had company."

"Ragsy, do you remember Mr. Reed, and his friends?"

"Sure do. But you were in uniform last time I saw you. How ya doin?"

"We're fine, Ragsy," replied Niles. "We are just concluding some business with Pete. Sounds like you had a grand time up north."

"We sure did!" exclaimed Ragsy. "The Kwanlin Dun folks taught me snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. And how to build a fire in super-cold weather. But we weren't the only outsiders up there to see the Aurora. Another fellow flew in in the weirdest plane I ever saw. Says he goes up there when he can in January. Called it about the best show in the worlds. Yes, he said worlds, and more than once. Plus, he says he's met you, Pete."

"He has? What's he look like?"

"Big! Must be pushing seven foot. But he's pretty wide, too. Wavy dark black hair. Strong as an ox, but got moves faster than a guy playing Three Card Monty. Know him?"

The four adults looked at each other. Then Niles said quietly, "He's back?"

"Possibly," replied Pete. "Did he give you a name, Ragsy?"

"All the Kwanlin Dun just called him Hawk. Wait! What am I thinking? He gave me his card. Here it is. Feels more like metal, than paper or celluloid. Here feel it. But all it says is 'S. Hawk.'"

Pete took the card. He held it out for the other three to see. Then he rubbed it on a knitted wool lap blanket on the bottom shelf of an end table. He held the card about a yard above the ground. He let go and withdrew his hand. The card hung in the air, as if on a string. A few seconds later the card began to shift in the air currents of the room, but the height remained unchanged.

"He is back," breathed Niles Reed.

Dave Foster and Tommy Brown whispered almost in unison, "Spacehawk."

"Spacehawk!" said Ragsy. "I thought he was made up for propaganda, like Captain America or the Shield."

"Not hardly," said Pete in a low voice.

"Then I know just where I want to be come June, Pete."

"Where's that?"

"New Mexico. He said he'd be there for some kind of incident he's expecting. At a town named Roswell."

+++

Afterword

The Target & the Targeteers arrived in Target V1 N10. A few issues later the Chameleon impersonated the Target. Not wearing that hero's armor he took a minor gunshot wound. As far as I know the Target is the only Golden Age Mystery Man with two sidekicks. Fortunately, the complete saga of the Target is available via the Digital Comics Museum at http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?cid=204

Below right is the only cover ever given to Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk. Most of his run is at the link above. Thanks to the folks at the Digital Comics Museum for permission to link directly to the Target Comics page. Visit them at http://digitalcomicmuseum.org/ Tell them Pulp Spirit sent you!

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