Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi concentrated, and a dozen shimmering holographic images of herself appeared while she cloaked her true self in light distortion invisibility.
Dr. Arthur Light smiled broadly and said, “I used a means of achieving that goal that would become all-too detectable to one with your powers. You see, I wanted you to trail my energy here so you could witness my triumph and receive a just reward for debts old and unpaid!
“Superman receives his super-powers partially from the fact that he comes from a red sun system, and our own sun is yellow,” the villain continued. “Thus he is super-charged, so to speak, by the different hue of radiance. Those powers would only be that much greater under a blue sun, for example. As you’ve noticed, I have been using an invention of mine to create an energy field around him that alters the sunlight so that it changes hue and nature before reaching him. I irradiated him with my power prism from a safe distance, and now, at my slightest whim, I may charge his unique cells with sunlight of any type — yellow, orange, red, blue, et cetera! This, in turn, causes his super-powers to fluctuate greatly. By making him far stronger and faster than normal via concentrated blue sun energy, I have robbed him of his ability to use those powers with his customary skill. He cares for others, and thus he is hesitant to hit or grab or do any ridiculously macho stunt, since he might end up killing the object of his altered strength or power!”
He stopped and said, “Oh, Kimiyo, I see you clearly. Special contacts, don’t you know? Still, how noble of you to keep trying. Never say die and all that drivel.”
She returned to normal and said, “Where is Superman? He’s too smart to be fooled by the likes of you!”
“Indeed, and that is something I am counting on,” said Dr. Arthur Light. “He will be here shortly. I had to toy with him first and use the power prism to shake his confidence. I even used light-based hypno gems to turn a poor dolt of an actor into a maniac. Thus, I occupied the altered Man of Steel with a new Solarman.”
“That device above us is no mere prism!” said Dr. Hoshi. “You’re doing more than just boosting his powers!”
“How clever you are!” said the villain with admiration. “It is a shame I don’t find you the least bit attractive. Oh, well, not every woman can be blonde and leggy, eh?”
At that moment, Superman himself crashed into the room. “No need to be subtle at a time like this,” he said. “I overheard it all. My friends were not the ones who tried to kill you. Those killers were their alternate Earth counterparts. The JLA doesn’t kill! Oh, and my heightened vision only made it easier to locate your energy field and follow it here!”
“Superman!” yelled Dr. Hoshi. “He has also been absorbing the super-charged energy in some way! That device above us is feeding on the same sunlight in some way!”
“Typical egotistical plotting, Light,” said Superman. “You trick me into exerting myself with your Solarman pawn while you drain the energy residue in some effort to make yourself superhuman!”
“I have no interest in the origin of my would-be killers,” said the evil Doctor Light. “The result was the same. I have been freed from the chain of self-doubt that tormented me for years. Oh, and that idea about my trying to absorb the energy after it has been altered and filtered through your super-charged alien cells was something the old Arthur Light would do!” He glanced over at Dr. Hoshi as she began to tremble.
“I’ve been secretly feeding that power into our Japanese friend, here,” he explained. “Doctor Light needs not exert himself in common physicality. Rather, he controls pawns who do his dirty work for him!”
Superman moved forward as Dr. Hoshi shuddered and suddenly began to grow. Her eyes became wild as she grew rapidly larger until she finally shattered part of the roof and towered over the city like a colossus.
“Japanese cinema. Giant rampaging monsters. Very apropos, wouldn’t you agree?” laughed Doctor Light. “Thus do all who dare challenge the real Doctor Light receive their just reward!”
“It doesn’t matter how you boost my powers, Light,” said Superman, “I’ll restore her to normal and then deal with you!”
“You’ll do nothing except fall before the majesty that is Light!” cried the villain.
Superman fell forward as his leap suddenly lost both its boosted and normal strength. He turned as Doctor Light punched him in the mouth.
“I can alter that energy field,” crowed Light. “Now you’re getting nothing but red solar energy! That makes you as helpless as any Earthling!”
Superman wiped blood off his lip and grimly replied, “It makes me a normal man. That’s still enough to handle you!” He darted forward and swung at Doctor Light, even as the villain stood still. Superman felt sharp pain as his fist connected with the rogue’s chin with no effect.
“Didn’t I tell you? I can generate a temporary modified prism field around myself as well,” shouted Doctor Light. “I’m soaking in blue rays, too! Those rays make any Earthling a Superman!” He knocked Superman aside and then followed up with two more punches.
Superman fell hard but refused to give up. He glanced upward around the lab as the villain gloated and glowed.
“You are the strongest of the League. You are their exemplar!” he cried madly. “Now that I have beaten you, what chance do your peers have? I won’t kill you, Superman. I’ll let you live, so you may run to them and carry the ominous truth! Doctor Light lives, and no one will ever stop him again!”
Superman caught his breath as Light glowed with a nimbus of energy. “I hate to state the obvious, but you haven’t beaten me yet!” he said, jumping forward and swinging the hovering device around until it struck Light’s glowing body.
Doctor Light’s expression changed as he was absorbed into the device and projected at the gigantic form of Dr. Hoshi. He screamed once, and then silence filled the room.
Superman rushed forward and altered the controls of the power prism until the unseen energy field that had surrounded him faded. He flexed his arm and nodded as he realized he was back to normal. “No matter how powerful you get, you still talk too much!” said Superman. “You should never have given the other Doctor Light time to realize what that other machine was doing or to let me hear that explanation!”
He flew out of the lab and hovered as he saw the now-monstrous, glowing woman as she made her way across the city with no trace of her formal intellect or self-control. Screaming crowds fled from her as she crushed buildings and cars with no visible sign that she knew what she was doing.
Thank goodness she is no longer moving with her old speed! thought Superman. I may be able to help her before anyone is hurt!
He flew in front of her face and said, “Kimiyo, I’ll help you. Return to the lab with me. We’ll turn you back to normal!”
She looked at him for a second and then roared in anger and slapped his flying form across the sky. He recovered swiftly and then flew at super-speed back into the lab.
In seconds, he had taken apart Light’s device and cobbled together a smaller version designed to drain the energy from the hulking figure that had once been the heroic Doctor Light. He aimed it at her and waited as her glowing body dimmed slightly.
Superman nodded in approval as the machine registered a level of absorbed power. This may work if I can keep her in range! he thought, dodging a beam of light that erupted from her eyes as he focused the device on her with his usual precision.
Slowly, she began to shrink back to human size, but her eyes remained opaque, and she roared in a crackling voice that sounded more like something inhuman than like her true self. She faced Superman and shattered the device with one carefully trained bolt of light.
Superman spoke hurriedly and tried to reason with her, but she merely flew into him with stunning force and soared skyward as he fell. He hesitated for a moment and then soared away in the opposite direction. “I don’t want to lose her, but this stop may be my only way of helping her regain her sanity!” he said.
Later, as the gleaming woman flew ever higher and exulted in the light that cascaded through her altered body, Superman managed to catch up to her. “Kimiyo, look at me! Just look!” he cried. He held up two gems that caught the light and projected pictures of two small children and a grinning young man.
Slowly, as the altered golden woman looked at the holograms, her expression changed, and she began to tremble. In seconds, she had regained her old expression, and she whispered, “Yasu, Imako, Jiro!”
Superman reached out for her and took her hand, which had regained solidity. “That’s right, Kim. I hoped these holos of your loved ones — which I created out of some photos taken from your house — would calm you down. I got your address from a super-swift scan of the records of one of the city call booths. You have lovely children!”
Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi smiled slowly and said, “Thank you, Superman. Thank you.”
Superman wrapped his cape around her and led her back down to the surface. “You’ll be fine now,” he said. “I’ve drained off much of the added energy. Perhaps another attempt will restore you fully.”
The golden woman smiled bitterly and said, “I do not know if I wish to be restored to what I was. I am a new being now, and I want nothing more than to rejoin my family with a new spirit or attitude. It was my rage and anger that enabled Light to turn me into not just a being of light but a monster! I have held in so much anger for so long that it threatened to consume me. I cannot say that it is truly gone now. It may return. Still, once again you have shown me what it means to be both a hero and human! You experienced changes of your own, but you remained the same man you always had been. You never gave up. You never even considered that.”
“We all make mistakes,” said Superman. “As for your anger, maybe you just needed to let it all out. I’d suggest you find a good friend or a professional to talk to about the source of your anger. I’ll listen if you’d like, or I can help you find someone else to talk to.”
Kimiyo nodded slowly and smiled. She suddenly returned to her human form and then reverted back to the golden light form. “I believe in time I will be able to control the change by thought!” she said.
“So we’ll be seeing more of Doctor Light?” said Superman.
“No,” she said. “Let the villain keep his name. I do not want any association with him. From now on, when I assume my glowing golden form, I will be called Hikari.”
“The Japanese word for light — nice choice,” said Superman. “As for Arthur Light, I have no doubt that he’ll be back. Since you’re sure he wasn’t absorbed into your light form, then I’d wager that he merely materialized elsewhere or will do so in time.”
She nodded and said, “My powers would enable me to detect him if he was nearby. I agree that he is still at large, but not in this area.”
“I’ll be ready for him when he returns,” said Superman. “I’m glad you actually feel as if you gained something from this experience. I’d hate to think the only result was a new and more dangerous Dr. Arthur Light.”
“I am going to find help for my anger,” she said. “I owe it to myself and to my children. By doing so, I may yet become worthy of your late cousin’s sacrifice.”
Superman kissed her on the cheek and said, “Thank you. I’d like to think Kara is watching you now and smiling.” They walked away together as Kimiyo vowed anew to honor the fallen heroine and to forge a new destiny for herself.