Starman found himself staring at a massive wall that wound its way across a stark desert terrain for miles. He was looking up at the Great Western Wall, but he did not know this. Frowning, he flew higher and higher, but he could not get above the looming wall. How odd! he thought. Not only have I been separated from Atom and the others, but I’m clearly not in Kansas anymore, so to speak.
He noticed the sun high above and felt an odd tingling sensation along the back of his skull. Starman noticed the sensation increased as he moved closer to the huge blank wall. If this was one of those comics I used to love, I’d say my spider-sense was tingling. I think there must be some type of energy surging behind that wall. I guess the wall is designed to protect the outer world from it. My own altered body chemistry must react to it in some way. Looking around, he gasped in surprise as he saw a group of odd figures approaching him in what looked like a battered Jeep.
Those guys are driving like wild men! Maybe they can give me some answers, he thought. As he flew closer to the vehicle, he realized the occupants were humanoid-sized koalas. I’ve seen this kind of thing before. I mean, in my line of work it’s not so rare to run into animal-men like the Hyena or shape-shifters like Changeling of the New Titans. Still, it is unsettling to see a whole group like this.
The koalas parked their jeep and rushed out to confront the flying hero. “Look at that dumb animal!” cried one koala. “The poor thing’s flying like a bloody bird! Get down before the kangarats gawk at ya!”
Another animal shrugged and said, “I’d say the animal is high on euke, but I’ve never seen the leaves do that to no one!”
“I’m not an animal,” said the hero. “My name is Starman. Notice the last syllable.”
The leader of the koalas said, “He can talk right proper! We better get him to land before the Crock Hunter sees him! That scaly brute will make a coat out of the poor thing!”
Starman landed and said, “Who are you? What’s this place?”
A thundering rumble shook the ground, and the koalas exchanged frightened looks. “Crikey! That’s not the Crock Hunter, nor is it any of them rotters in the Society! That’s some kinda of UFO, as the Yanks call ’em!” Indeed, a silvery spaceship rose over the horizon to loom above the desert and the odd bears.
“Aliens and talking koalas,” remarked Starman. “This is not a good combination.”
The koalas pulled at him and said, “C’mon, mate! Scamper! That thing can’t be up to no good!”
Starman pulled away and said, “Uh, thanks… mate, but I’ll find out for myself.” He flew directly at the spaceship and entered it as a silvery hull door slid open to admit him. Starman had been to space a few times, and he knew a great deal about aliens and spacecrafts, but he stared at the strange ship as he crossed the deck.
This is very odd, he thought. I don’t see or hear any occupants. Maybe the ship flies itself via some kind of remote control or automated system. He examined the controls of the craft and found a few odd features as he made his way around the interior.
“Hmmm, there are some clearly jury-rigged seats for humanoid occupants, but they aren’t a natural part of the ship,” he said. “Everything else is of a kind when it comes to texture or form. The seats were a later addition. I wonder if the makers of the ship aren’t human in form. They may not need conventional seats.”
Starman glanced out a portal and noticed two things. First, in spite of the altitude of the speeding ship, he still could not see the top of the massive wall. Secondly, he saw the tiny figures of the koalas speeding away in their Jeep in a mad rush to escape. “Those poor animals wanted to help me in their own way, but the spaceship really spooked them,” he said.
The ship landed abruptly as Starman hurried to peer out of the portal. It looks as if this is where I get off! Could be a trap, but what choice do I have? he thought, and stepped out of the ship moments after a hull door slid open. Starman looked around and saw the prone form of a beautiful woman. She was an exotic beauty, but a beauty nonetheless. Her red skin made a stark contrast to her white costume, as did her upswept golden hair. Starman bent over her body and tried to revive her when a sad-looking, human-sized dog came up to him from out of the nearby brush.
He wore a white lab coat and had a scholarly manner about him in spite of his canine appearance. “I am Dr. Canus,” he said. “You’ve come to help me restore pretty Pyra? I’d hoped the translator ship would be able to find someone like you. While I realize it draws upon the worst part of my hound nature to whine, I do admit that someone did a better job in creating a material form for you than I did with Pyra, here. Your coloration is distinctly human in nature.”
“Human?” said Starman. “You’re the first person here to call me a human. I met a group of koala bears who referred to me as an animal. Still, I’d better correct you; I was born, not made. I’m not from this era, and I can’t claim any tie to your injured friend, there.”
“Remarkable!” said Dr. Canus. “You mean to say you have the power to transverse time itself? Of course you have, since you didn’t find it odd that I called you human. Humans of this era are used to being called animals, since none of them and none of my peers know how things were before the Great Disaster when men ruled the world.”
“Are you some type of scientist?” asked Starman. “I noticed your lab coat and your title.”
“I am considered to be a genius, but my wits have failed me now,” explained Dr. Canus. “Pretty Pyra is an energy being. She comes from another planet. Her world was facing doom due to depletion in energy itself. Pyra was sent here, and I made her a material form in order to help her find a way to restore the lost energies her people need. As formless energy beings, they were at a true disadvantage in many ways, although their unique qualities make up for the weaknesses… but I digress. We tapped into the energies of the Great Vortex beyond the Western Wall, and it apparently restored her planet but left her in a coma. I sent her automated translator ship to find one of her people and bring him here, since I assumed their restoration would enable them to offer aid. I fear the poor ship mistakenly thought you were one of Pyra’s race. Now she is lost! Owwwooo!” Dr. Canus began to howl in a dejected manner.
“Don’t give up hope,” said Starman. “I’m not from her world, but my body is not strictly human, either. I have stellar energy within me. I’m something of a living star. That’s why that ship thought I was one of her kind. Maybe my energies can revive her. Stand back!”
Starman waited until Dr. Canus had backed away, and then he generated a steady flow of stellar rays over Pyra’s body. Minutes passed, and then slowly she stirred.
“My love, you’ve saved me!” she said.
Starman smiled and said, “Sorry, Miss, I’m spoken for, but I’m glad I was of help to you.”
Pyra sat up and shook her head. “I was talking to Canus! His genius revived me! I know it!” she said as she stood up and clasped the scientist in an embrace.
“Pretty Pyra!” said Dr. Canus. “It moves me to see you well and to hear your kind words! This young man actually revived you with his stellar power!”
Pyra released him and turned to face Starman. “Forgive my rudeness. You helped me, and I thank you. What manner of being are you?” she asked.
“I’m called Starman. I come from the past. I may have been brought here as a result of your efforts to tap into what you called the Great Vortex.”
Dr. Canus nodded and said, “Very likely, sir. Very likely, indeed. The Great Vortex is a strange energy source that is contained beyond the Western Wall. The nature of said energy is unknown even to me. However, I know from my young friend Kamandi that it takes its essence from time and space itself.”
“Where is Kamandi?” asked Pyra.
“The boy and our other allies were lost when the Vortex energy flooded over us all,” said Dr. Canus. “I feared what had saved your planet might have doomed those dear to me.”
“I’d suggest we go back to that Wall,” said Starman. “It’s the key to the mystery, since it apparently brought us here.”