“Now, how do we find the Conqueror?” asked Little Mermaid. “He may be making more of those things!”
“No,” said Aquaman. “I think in truth the missions we undertook were designed to occupy us while he freed and revived Eterno the Immortal. I wonder if this Conqueror could be one of the Xan.”
“If his robotic toy survived all this time, then why couldn’t he?” said Godiva. “Maybe the gas that killed his race failed to get him!”
“I agree,” said Fleur-de-Lis. “But what if this Eterno was merely one of the Xan’s lesser weapons?”
“We need to find out,” said a determined Superman. “I have an idea. Let’s go to where Eterno was originally imprisoned. That ancient spot might be the lair of the Conqueror.”
In record time, the Justice League of America and the Global Guardians reached a huge cavern that stretched miles underground.
“A girl can really travel with escorts like you blokes!” said Godiva.
“It is fortunate that a couple of us have super-speed,” said Superman. “That makes the traveling much easier.”
“We’re not alone!” warned Bushmaster. “I can see the infrared heat signature of a living being!” They followed his gaze, and soon a tall man in armor and a helmet emerged from within the shadowy recesses of the cavern.
“You have found me,” he said proudly. “Welcome. I am the Conqueror. Your petty race will not soil the homeland of my people for long. I will see to that! I was one of the Xan, and only I survived their demise. Certain chemicals in my lab acted to place me in a state of suspended animation. It was, perhaps, a chance occurrence, but I feel that it was destiny’s way of shielding her son so he might reclaim this world as his birthright!”
“So you think bein’ here all Johnny on the spot and all that gives you squatter’s rights to planet Earth?” said Godiva. “You must be a right nutter!”
“Agreed,” said Aquaman. “Your robot failed to stop us, and your pawns did nothing more than occupy us. Now take your best shot!”
“Indeed I shall, you arrogant stripling!” said the Conqueror. As he waved his hands, Aquaman began to choke. “I’ve rendered you into a rather unique being for the nonce. Now you breathe neither air nor water!”
“Great Hera!” cried Wonder Woman. “He’ll die!”
Before she could assist Aquaman, the Conqueror touched her, and her body began to melt. “I’ve returned you to the magic clay from whence you came!” he said.
Superman found himself trapped in a glowing prison of green kryptonite, while an equally deadly energy field contained the other heroes. Even the resourceful Olympian could not break free.
“Your Argonauts never faced alien power, now did they?” mocked the Conqueror.
“He’s beaten us all!” cried Little Mermaid. “How is that possible?”
“Maybe not,” said Green Arrow. “There’s the big man himself!” He pointed to where Doctor Mist stood calmly in a glowing nimbus of energy.
The ancient ruler quickly used his power to free Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Olympian, Godiva, and the others, who were now all back to normal, but that was not the last wonder to be achieved by the man in green and red. “I have restored your allies and freed you all,” he said. “Now I will deal with the Conqueror.”
“I know nothing of you,” said the Conqueror. “I learned much about these others, but you eluded me.”
“You are a pitiful being,” said Doctor Mist. “Your race died, and rather than rejoice in the chance to do something to honor them or even to merely mourn for them, you seek to slay yet another race! I mourn for your own small and hateful soul, but that will not stop me from doing what must be done!”
He stared at the ancient Xan, and his eyes burned with power for a moment. Placing one hand on the shoulder of the other ancient being, he said, “He is harmless now. His mind is gone. I had to do this in order to prevent more loss.”
“Your power is amazing!” said Bushmaster. “You did this in seconds! What good you could do for my nation!”
“I did what had to be done,” explained Doctor Mist. “As I have explained before, I cannot use my power at length. It is a temptation that could lead to my own ruination. I am sorry, but I can do no more except act as one who alerts others to peril and brings them together! I will summon you all again when you are needed. That is my role in this era!”
“Hold it, pal!” said Green Arrow, stepping forward angrily. “Just stay put for a minute, Gazoo! I don’t like what I’m hearing. You have the power to make things better. You stopped this creep cold when none of us could even wrinkle his suit, and yet you stayed out of the fight until now. You had us run around the globe like a bunch of puppets, while you lurked in your cave and thought deep thoughts.
“What kind of arrogant, cold-hearted jerk are you?” he continued in his characteristic tone of self-righteous fury. “Don’t you know while you wasted our time with your games, real people were hurting and dying on the streets of Star City? This whole cosmic quest thing was nothing more than an excuse for you to get us together so you could line us all up for future missions? That’s garbage. Next time you need someone to save the world, don’t call me! I’ve got better things to do that involve day-to-day problems a guy like you couldn’t understand in a billion years!”
As his Justice League friends drew closer and tried to talk to him, he turned his back on the startled Doctor Mist, who nodded sadly and returned each of the heroes to their homes around the world.
While Green Arrow did not see it and perhaps would not have given much credit to Doctor Mist if he had, the former emperor of Kôr sat in his lonely cavern, tears brimming in his troubled eyes.