Reilly Coogan was a felon, that was how he made his living. His first job was actually getting into prison. His nickname was Jailbird, although he wasn’t your typical career parolee. He had been to college, graduated with a Master’s Degree by twenty one, and had two doctorates by thirty. He had been put through college by his brother Oscar before his death, with the intention of succeeding him one day.
That day came sooner than later when someone blew up Oscar’s home. Officially it had been ruled a gas fire, but the police knew that it had been covered up. Reilly was locked away on a trumped up charge, one that his brother had arranged. Reilly was supposed to oversee Oscar’s operations within the prison.
This would isolate him from any blame, and insure that things were run well. After Reilly had eliminated his brother’s hit man, and taken over the empire, he made a decision. He was content to stay in prison, albeit, a low security, high amenities one. When anyone tried to touch
him, he would respond, “How can I have done this? I’m incarcerated on tax charges.”
Reilly was smart, smug, and comfortable. This makes for a dangerous combination when you’re at the top of a shaky hill. He was so arrogant that he had orchestrated a transfer to his home turf Oceania, as it was called now, had been home. Now it was a big city, with big players. As long as he stayed in prison, he was safe. That was the problem.
His lawyer arrived on a Tuesday afternoon. “Hello Lou, how’s the day going?” “Not good, I’m afraid. Someone has switched tactics on you Reilly. They’ve pushed through a pardon for you. You leave prison tomorrow a free man.” Those words stopped the very smart, very scared crook in his tracks.
It took him all afternoon to regain his composure, and then he formed a plan. His alibi had always been his location. “How could a known felon pull off something like this?” The police would be watching him day and night, unless . . . unless someone else was running the empire. He would need a stooge, but a believable one.
Who was strong enough to topple him, but smart enough to become partners? How could he control them? No one fit the bill, until he came up with a very crazy idea. “I’ll just have to stay alive long enough to pull it off. Or do I?” It was then that he decided that Reilly Coogan wouldn’t make it out of prison alive.
The jailbird would fly the coup, but not the way someone had intended. They wouldn’t pull his strings, even to free him. He would have a corpse brought in by Lancaster, set a fire, and escape through his “private elevator” when he wanted a night on the town. Reilly Coogan would cease to exist.
Oceania was apparently inviting members of comic conventions to attack his organization now. This Sea Horse was causing trouble for John Cater. He could use that, but what would he call himself. Gadgets weren’t the problem, those could be made.
He needed something that didn’t sound threatening, something that people would laugh at, not fear. If the citizens feared him, they’d pressure the police to stop him. If they laughed, then no one would bat an eye while he locked down the city, and half the east coast for that matter.
It was then that he remembered a statement his Grandfather used to make. Roger Crane was the boss in the region of what had been Oceania. He used to say, “It’s time for the upper crust to move out of the way. Tell them that the Cranes are king know, we’re taking High Society by storm.” Then he would laugh as he did exactly that, and so would his Grandson.
Lancaster filled the boss’ order, grabbed a body, lit the fuse, and the papers told the untimely death of jailbird Reilly Coogan. The fake funeral wasn’t even over before Cater and all the factions were fighting for control. It didn’t matter, Reilly had helped Oscar plan his rise to the top, and he would easily do the same under a new name.
The next day another masked character hit Oceania’s smallest bank. He used an experimental antigravity generator, and high powered laser weapons. The bank robber was dressed in an outfit that looked like it was a mixture of the nineteen thirties and a science fiction novel. He smiled at the security cameras and introduced himself by burning his nom de plume into the vault door. It read, “High Society was here!”