Arisia ducked the blazing sword and punched the Viking with the golden blade. He caught her wrist and spun her about in his arms. He’s choking me! she gasped.
She rocketed forward, and to her dismay, he held her firmly. The golden armor keeps breaking through my defenses, but a girl learns a few tricks of her own living in California, she thought.
The Green Lantern projected a tiny, thin beam of energy that snaked between his armored chest plate and his body. She couldn’t affect the gold armor, but she could push his gray undergarment. She expanded the ray, but his chestplate remained in place.
That’s impossible. The ring should have snapped it off by shoving his body away from the yellow it could not move! she thought, frowning.
He spun his blade and connected with the hilt. She groaned and fell hard. Got to win this! For Fentara’s honor and for Hal! she thought.
She used the ring to generate a drill that made the earth of the Middle-American field fly toward her foe. As mud splattered his armor, she brought down a bludgeon of green power directly across him. He staggered and fell flat.
“Great! No gold, no problem,” laughed the woman.
Then she scanned his fallen form with her ring. “Where is this alien from?” she asked.
The powerful tool of the Guardians spoke. “Krypton.”
Arisia gasped. “That could explain how what was not possible seemed to happen — an illusion! Is this Superman?”
The ring responded, “It is Kal El — Superman.”
She ducked a punch and used the ring to translate her speech into Kryptonian. “Superman, it is Arisia! We are being tricked into combat by magical illusions!” she said.
The Viking with the golden blade frowned and lowered his guard. “Arisia, of course! Magic is a bane for me,” he said slowly.
She blinked, and the Viking turned into the red-blue-and-gold-costumed figure of Superman. He, in turn, saw before him the lovely, pretty Arisia.
“I regret that our deception failed. That makes direct physical intervention a grim necessity,” said a gaunt figure in a colorful green and red costume with a finned skullcap that framed his face, much like that worn by Adam Strange or Doctor Light, but without a helmet.
Superman turned to intercept the newcomer, but magical fire blazed across the field, and he and Arisia both fell, stunned.
From magical shadows, out stepped the real Golden Blade and Strong Girl to join their enigmatic leader. “How far has the once noble Honor Team of Thronn fallen?” whispered the woman.
Arisia groaned and awoke to see the three costumed figures restraining Superman in a weird harness.
“The Honor Team of Thronn! I’ve heard of you — something my father once said. You were heroes?” she said, her own wrists covered with odd devices linked to those that held Superman.
“Your father was Fentara?” asked the gaunt Magicko.
“Yes, he once patrolled a sector of space in which your team journeyed,” she said.
“He was a noble man,” said Strong Girl. “Green Lantern sent him to us through his masters the Guardians. We had broken up due to the death of our final member, Energiman.”
“Why this elaborate charade to get us to attack one another? I assume that was your goal,” said Superman as he struggled with the magical bonds. “You attacked us and then led us together where your wizard made us see one another as our foes.”
“Indeed! We sought to channel the fair Arisia’s emerald power through your super-charged cells,” said Golden Blade.
“Wait! I recall father saying that Energiman was a being who could convert himself into pure energy, who found out that he had some mental or physical tie to our green energy,” said Arisia. “He used that connection to summon our Earth Green Lantern to your aid when a foe captured the Honor Team.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Power Battery Peril,” Green Lantern v2 #32 (October, 1964).]
“True. We have altered our costumes a bit since then, but we are the same team your Green Lantern saved from a warlord,” said Magicko. “Our Energiman gave his very life to bring the noble Lantern here.”
“We broke up then, out of grief and discouragement,” continued Golden Blade. “Arisia’s father was Green Lantern of a neighboring sector, and we felt we weren’t truly needed. In reality, we simply lacked the will to fight on without our valiant partner.”
“So why capture us? Why try to get me to use the ring against Superman?” asked Arisia.
“It was so we may channel your powerful ring energy through what has been called the single most powerful living being in all space — Superman! Only a body of his power could safely contain such power — power enough to help us regenerate Energiman,” said Magicko. “We reunited recently to fight during the multiverse-spanning Crisis and found that, when together, we could pick up his faint thoughts. He lives still as a phantom of energy. We realized that we could re-form him, since he was a being of pure energy, if we could acquire enough of the green power to which he was akin. But he would still be just an energy wraith unable to transform back into his humanoid form. Thus only a superhuman like the Kryptonian, here, could house his essence.”
“You want my body?” said the frowning Superman.
“Only temporarily. Once he has used your form as a matrix, he can exist solo once more,” said Golden Blade.
“I would have served as his host myself, being nearly your physical equal, but then he might regenerate as a woman, and that would be… problematic,” said Strong Girl.
“If this process is so benign, why didn’t you just ask me?” said Superman.
“You mean–?” began Magicko.
“I’d let you do this to save his life,” he said, “especially since you claim to be heroes, and that it is a temporary thing.”
Arisia said, “There’s more to it, isn’t there?”
Magicko smiled warily. “Perceptive woman! We fear the process may require the subject to surrender some of his life-force.”
Arisia thought for a minute. “Wait! If it’s the ring energy that really fuels his rebirth, then it would serve as well as life-force. I even have some extra to share,” she mused.
“My job is to save lives — do it!” said Superman.
“You’d give your life for a stranger?!” said Strong Girl, marveling at the idea.
“Yes,” said Superman simply.
They began, and emerald power flowed into Superman’s body until he glowed a bright green. Slowly, an outlined male form superimposed itself across his body.
“He’s re-forming!” cheered Strong Girl, clapping her hands.
Magicko smiled. “It is done!”
The corporeal body of Energiman moved off of Superman. As a mutant, he had an unusually large head with big oval eyes and a tuft of hair. He wore the very same red and white costume he’d been wearing when he sacrificed his life to save his teammates.
“What have we done?” he cried. “Life is precious to me, but not at the cost of another!”
Superman shook his head and rose to his feet. “I’m weakened… tired… but hardly dead!” he said, smiling.
“Then how?” gasped Golden Blade.
“I gave him the extra years of chronal energy I once absorbed during a time trip,” said the now-youthful Arisia, a much smaller girl than her curvaceous adult form. “My ring had used it to make me an adult — for personal reasons. I could not let Superman die, so I willed all that energy into Energiman. Superman lost no life-force, and I merely returned to my real age. I’m what you Earthlings call a teenager.”
“Thank you!” cried Energiman.
“You are truly worthy of being Fentara’s child,” said Golden Blade.
Superman hugged the girl. “I thank you, too. You gave up a lot for me,” he said.
Arisia smiled sadly. “I’ll be older one day, anyway. I was beginning to see that my new maturity was purely physical. It wasn’t doing me much good in other ways.”
“Thanks to you both, the Honor Team of Thronn lives again to fight for justice. We will make up for the manner in which we tried to use you,” vowed Magicko.
Strong Girl kissed Superman. “Come see me sometime.”
Superman smiled and watched the alien team vanish in a burst of magical power. Turning back to Arisia, he asked her, “So do you think you might like to meet some other teen heroes or former teen heroes? They might help you adjust. I know your fellow Green Lanterns are all a bit older than you. Artemis of the New Titans, for example, is a fashion photographer. I believe Hal said you were a designer on Graxios IV. Maybe, as pretty as you are, you’d like to try your luck in front of the camera. It worked for Starfire.”
Arisia smiled. “I’d enjoy trying that. Teen models are rather popular now. It would be nice to be the right age for something!”
He laughed, and they flew off together.