by Goose Gansler
Soon after landing on Xanthu, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen said their goodbyes to their unwitting chauffeur.
“Our thanks to you,” Lightning Lord said as he clasped Nura Nal Kallor’s hand. “We should be able to charter a ship from here and begin our new lives together.”
Nura nodded and then planted a soft kiss on the cheek of the baby Riyance, who clung affectionately to his mother. “Best of luck to you all. I’m sure things will work out for you. I don’t need my precognitive powers to see that.”
Saturn Queen smiled wryly at the thought. It had been so simple to implant into the former Dream Girl’s mind that she had foreseen the two super-villains leading a normal life on some distant planet. “You’re very kind.”
“Goodbye,” Nura waved as she walked away. There was some shopping she had to do before returning home to Thom and the children.
Almost there, Lightning Lord thought to his wife.
Indeed, came the mental reply.
A few minutes later, a charter service had rented out a top-of-the-line cruiser to them. No rental fee or downpayment had been required. The charter service agent had also filed a bogus flight plan with the local space traffic control. He also happily gave them a bottle of Winathian wine for their journey.
How sweet of you. Mekt looked at his telepathic wife. It had been a long time since he had sampled a taste of home.
It was my pleasure, Saturn Queen replied. His mind was so malleable.
Soon the threesome were on their way, adjusting their course once they were out of the range of Xanthu’s Science Police patrols. At this point, no one would be the wiser that their ship would never reach Phlon.
Elsewhere and elsewhen, but strangely enough in orbit around another Xanthu, the icosahedral ship of Gorum Boz, the self-proclaimed Computyrant, was calibrating its sensors. The craft remained stationary and undetectable as it began its probing of the surroundings — an alternate timeline over ten years in the past from his own era. He was in search of one man — one, who like himself, did not originate in this timeline. He made the final adjustments to his arrays. Now they were attuned to the slight sub-chronotic differences between matter particles native this timeline and those which came from his own.
Almost immediately, the vid-screen illuminated with a message that matching particles had been tracked to here. His search had taken him across trillions of kilometers to this distant part of the galaxy. Gorum fed the sensor information into the navigational systems and had a descent vector plotted.
Back at Legion Headquarters, two of the newest Legionnaires were returning to their quarters. Reaching up to his neck, Lexor Man deactivated the magnetic clasps that connected his purple helmet to the rest of his armor. Alexo “Lex” Luthor took a deep breath of fresh air. Not that there were any impurities in the recycled air within his armor, but there was something about the smell, the textures, the feel that even his prodigious scientific skills had not been able to duplicate.
Putting his helmet under his arm, he walked the rest of the way to his quarters. He was looking forward to getting out of the metallic suit. While he reveled in the role of hero, it was always with a twinge of regret that he couldn’t do it openly. He was the first Legionnaire with a secret identity.
Sure, he thought as the biometric scanner on the door finished its test and opened his way inside, Supergirl masqueraded as Unknown Boy for a time, but that was because of the effects of red kryptonite. (*) Jan was Mystery Lad for a little bit, but that was only for his first mission before everyone knew him as Element Lad. (*) Mon-El was Marvel Lad just as a joke, and even though Douglas and his brother Andrew before him wore a mask, everybody knew who they really wore. (*) But nobody outside of the Legion could know that one of their own was a descendant of the arch-villain Lex Luthor.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Unknown Legionnaire,” Adventure Comics #334 (July, 1965), “The Secret Power of the Mystery Super-Hero,” Adventure Comics #307 (April, 1963), and “The Secret of the Mystery Legionnaire,” Adventure Comics #305 (February, 1963).]
Alexo undid all of the magnetic clasps and slipped out of the armor. He quickly jumped into the shower, where the computer system instantly had the water at the exactly correct temperature of 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the water cascaded down his body down the drain into the Legion’s own photocatalytic water treatment system, he mused on how nice it would be to be able to show his face to the worlds. The other Legionnaires’ identities were known throughout the United Planets, but his was a mystery. Even though a thousand years separated him from the death of his ancestor, he had to hide behind a suit of armor. His forefather’s evil deeds were legendary, but they were not consigned to the distant past. His ancestor, as a teenager, had journeyed to a date early in the Legion’s history, and he had almost destroyed the fledgling team by trapping them in the Phantom Zone. (*) There had also been the emergence of Urthlo, an android programmed by his ancestor to destroy the Legion. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Lex Luthor Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes,” Adventure Comics #325 (October, 1964) and “The Face Behind the Lead Mask,” Adventure Comics #300 (September, 1962).]
No, the name of Luthor was too dangerous to be used in connection with the Legion, at least right now. Alexo had to content himself with the thought that someday his actions might prove to the redeem the Luthor name. Until then, he would operate under the name of Lexor Man, named after the world where his ancestor had augmented his technical might with ancient technology. More importantly, Lex Luthor had fathered a child by his wife Ardora. He was the eldest male in the thin direct line of descent from that child. Now he was the champion of that distant world, having used the ancient technology to gain gravitic powers.
His communications vid-screen illuminated green, indicating that there was incoming call from a fellow Legionnaire. “Answer,” Alex called out. The command completed the connection and brought the face of Mr. Mxyztic onto the screen.
“Hey, Alexo. I was going to head down to the cafeteria. I hear that Tenzil hypermailed a new recipe for the robo-cook. I’m dying to try it.”
Alexo groaned. Another recipe from the former Matter-Eater Lad now turned Bismollian senator. The last “delicacy” that Tenzil had provided had made Alexo rush to the infirmary.
“Sure, Mxy. I’ll join you,” Alexo responded. “But I think I’ll pass on the new dish. I don’t have the fifth-dimensional constitution that you have.”
“Ah, you’ve got to live a little, Alexo.” Mxy grinned.
“Some of us can’t just magic away indigestion,” Alexo countered playfully. “I’ll meet you in five minutes.”
When Alexo reached the cafeteria, Mxy was already seated with a plate of a purple and green gelatinous concoction atop speckled noodles. At least Alexo thought they might be noodles, but then it appeared that the noodles were moving.
After exchanging a smile, Alexo went to the robo-cook and ordered a planet-burger meal. Twenty seconds later, the meal was ready. Carrying the tray over, Alexo sat down next to Mxy.
“My goodness, if this isn’t delicious,” Mxy declared as noodles draped over his chin. Much to Alexo’s dismay, he realized that the noodles were indeed moving of their own volition.
“I’m quite content with standard Earth fare,” Alexo replied.
“Lex, Lex, Lex…” Mxy sighed. “There’s a whole galaxy of food out there, and you restrict yourself to the victuals of one planet? It’s amazing how much variety there is, so much more than in the fifth.”
Alexo poured out some zero-g-grown tomato paste on his plate for his French fries. “Call me stubborn.”
Their attention turned as some new arrivals entered the cafeteria. At the front was the present leader of the Legion, Cosmic Man. Outfitted in the pink and black costume he had worn since the Legion’s inception, the only sign of the passing years was his receding hairline, which gave him a pronounced widow’s peak.
Following him were Polar Man and Color Master. These two heroes had once been members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, but in the intervening years they had been accepted into the Legion proper. Following them were the two other Legion founders, Lightning Man and Saturn Woman. Behind them was the Legionnaire who had joined at the same time as Lexor Man and Mr. Mxyztic — Ferro Man.
“The headquarters certainly is quiet,” Cosmic Man announced as he scanned the menu vid-screen above the robo-cook. “You two are the first we’ve seen since we came back from the mining disaster on Asteroid NY-1941. Everybody else must still be on their missions. I really should have checked the monitor board first.”
“Brainy’s around somewhere,” Mxy noted.
Color Master, in his rainbow-colored suit, skipped past Cosmic Man and placed his order. “Come on, Cos. We were dealing with that cave-in for three straight days. I, for one, am famished.”
Polar Man added, “I don’t know why we had to leave so soon. I kind of liked that climate on NY-1941.”
“You would,” Lightning Man chuckled as he held his wife Saturn Woman’s hand. “It must be a lot like your homeworld of Thrann.”
Smiling, Polar Man said, “430 Rankine is like a warm summer day on Thrann.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: 430 Rankine is equivalent to minus 30 Fahrenheit.]
Brrr! Ferro Man thought. That world must be cold. Even though he had spent most of the mission in his super-hard iron form, the cold had still gotten to him. Now he was grateful for the warmth of the headquarters.
“So, anything exciting happen while we were gone?” Saturn Woman asked.
Alexo and Mxy exchanged an uncomfortable look. Now that they thought about it, they weren’t exactly sure how Brainiac 5 was going to alter the log about their mission to the other timeline and the release of Saturn Queen and Lightning Lord along with their son.
“Umm. We had a lead on some of the super-villains. Brainy picked up their trans-temporal track,” Alexo explained.
“They went to the other timeline again?” Lightning Man sighed. “Why do my brother and his cohorts continue to go there?”
“I don’t know, dear.” Saturn Woman sat down next to her husband, their plates filled with authentic Titanian and Winathian fare. “They must realize that it’s not our own past. The lack of phantom effect and all.”
“So, how did things go?” Cosmic Man looked over his plate. It was a Kathoonian dish, one that his wife Lydda, the former Night Girl, liked to make.
“Well, we found them, and, er, got mixed up with the Legion of that time,” Mxy explained. “Funny bunch of kids. I wonder if you were all that rough back then,” he said, grinning impishly.
“So did you capture them?” Cosmic Man asked.
“Yes,” Alexo responded.
“No,” Mxy answered.
The two new Legionnaires looked at each other again sheepishly.
“Not exactly,” Alexo said.
“Well, sort of,” Mxy sputtered.
Cosmic Man’s face grew very stern. “Let me put this more simply… rookies. Are any of the Legion of Super-Villains that went back currently in our custody or in the hands of the Science Police?”
“No,” Alexo said quietly.
“There’s something going on.” Cosmic Man rose from the table.
Ferro Man spoke up. “You’re not suggesting that they’ve done something wrong, are you?”
“I don’t know what to think.” Cosmic Man stomped toward the door. He activated the communicator in his flight ring. “Brainiac 5. Meet me at the monitor board. Immediately.” He looked back at the group. “That means all of you, too.”