White Witch nodded slowly as she faced the other Legion members at their headquarters. She was weary from intensive study. Her magic was amazing and could work wonders, but she could only work spells that she had deliberately studied prior to immediate use. Thus, she had worked hard while the others conferred with Brainiac 5 and the two heroes from the Faultless Five.
Now she faced her sister Nura Nal, who idly buffed her nails while her sister announced her plans. Brainiac 5, Dawnstar, Mano, and the Green Guardian waited with different degrees of anticipation.
“A spell of dissimilarity should allow me to bring us all to the evil Legion and our captive friends,” said the White Witch. “The evil doubles are not of our universe, and thus that which makes them different also enables me to locate them!”
“I expect them to be near Ekron, since that was their likely point of entry,” said Brainiac 5.
“And yet our flight ring signals, the mission monitor board, and my own powers cannot locate them,” said Dawnstar.
“Don’t feel badly,” said Green Guardian. “My own powers are also helpless. I know Brainiac can create machines that defy both magic and science.”
White Witch began to chant, and her magical powers slowly surged around the room until the group found themselves staring out not at the walls of Legion Headquarters, but at a large chamber within a huge hollow cavern on Ekron.
“We’re now on Ekron! You were right!” cried Dream Girl as she saw a familiar green moon above.
The White Witch smiled ruefully as her potent spell weakened her. “It is indeed. I see that once again Brainiac 5’s keen deductive skills are equal to any magic!”
She gestured to where their captive friends lined one wall. Each was bound with some device designed to prevent the use of their respective powers. Across from them stood the evil Cabal of Super-Criminals and a gleaming gemstone that rested within a huge machine.
Dream Girl nodded approvingly as she saw the group’s obvious leader. An exact double for Brainiac 5 sat above the others on an elevated platform as he adjusted the machines with deliberate precision. “That has to be the traitor from my dream,” she said. “No wonder I mistook him for one of us.”
Hallucination and Grand Master interrupted their romantic moment to face the heroes. “How alike these foes be to our lost allies,” Queen Projektra said.
Grand Master nodded. “No matter. They may resemble those we’ve lost, but they won’t be able to match our powers or our ruthlessness!”
Dawnstar soared into the air and crossed the cavern in the blink of an eye. She was followed by the two members of the Faultless Five.
The Green Guardian used her powers to herd the villains away from their captives as Mano reached out to free them.
Shrinking Violet was not the woman she had once been. Captivity at the hands of a rebellious faction of her own people of Imsk had turned the former “Shy Vi” into a steely, determined woman who now displayed true aggression in battle. Still, she shuddered as the destructive hand of one who so resembled one of her old foes reached out for the trap that contained her.
Mano shattered the trap and said, “I am not the man you think I am!”
Violet grew to her normal size and said, “I know. I overheard enough from those creeps to realize that. Still, I need a moment to accept that!”
She flew higher, instantly shrinking to the size of an insect. She rushed over the haughty Projektra and enlarged herself with precision, then crashed into the queen and slugged her with enough force to leave her stunned. “I never could stand a snob!” she said with a grin.
“I will crush you like a Venusian gnat!” shouted Grand Master. But he gasped suddenly as his muscled form suddenly collapsed to the ground. “I can’t move!” he said between gritted teeth.
The freed Cosmic Boy approached and said, “That’s the idea. I’m keeping you and all your endless martial arts moves out of the fight by pinning you down by the very iron in your blood!”
Invisible Kid, hidden amongst the evil counterparts of the Legionnaires this whole time, popped into view to connect with a swift kick to the head of Green Thumb. “You may look like my ami, but you were fooled by a trick he would not have fallen for!” said Jacques Foccart, smiling.
Before Green Thumb could use his plant-manipulating powers in his defense, he was pinned by the silently approaching Stone Boy, who now revealed his true allegiance to the good team.
“I’ve wanted to do that ever since I first fooled you into believing I was your Granite!” he said.
Star Boy hugged Dream Girl and said, “Nura! Good to see you, love!”
“I know, I’m sure it is!” said Dream Girl. “Now, how about helping subdue these frauds!” He shrugged sheepishly and used his power to increase mass to bring a section of the cavern crashing down into Brainiac’s stolen machines.
Dawnstar continued to help Mano free their friends, and the White Witch watched warily to aid any of their friends in need.
Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 faced his counterpart. “Fascinating,” he said. “You are as well possessed of a twelfth-level intelligence. You’ve orchestrated this entire vendetta in order to gain the Starstone and R.J. Brande’s machines in order to restore your own lost universe. An admirable goal, and yet your methods leave much to be desired.”
The evil Brainiac smiled coldly. “Your association with these lesser beings has tainted your reasoning ability with the clouding effects of morality!”
“Nonetheless, I have just enclosed your stolen Starstone in my protective force-field,” said Brainiac 5. “This in effect removes all power from the equipment you took from Brande’s Asteroid. No doubt you realized this as well.”
Brainiac frowned. “Clever. Still, the obvious solution to this dilemma is to have my lover dismember you and your belt!”
At that moment, Ultragirl swooped down and stood before the two Coluans. She placed her hands on her hips and smiled in a cocky manner.
“Well, well, well!” she said. “Two green-hued hunks for the asking. Too bad for you that this girl doesn’t ask for anything. I take what I want!”
The good Brainiac gasped, even though he had expected to see such a double. Ultra Boy had warned him when he had brought the injured Tellus into Legion Headquarters. He had even argued with the genius about Brainiac’s command that he and Lightning Lass remain behind as backup. Still, intellectual awareness of an eventuality and actually facing the double of a woman one loved dearly were two entirely separate scenarios.
“Kara,” he said softly.
“Right, but it’s pronounced Kira — as in Kira Zur-LL.” She smiled broadly. “Look! He is strangely moved. Can it be he had the hots for my dearly departed double?” She was suddenly enveloped by a cloud of inky darkness as Shadow Lass emerged to blanket the girl of steel in her unique shadowy powers.
Ultragirl moved forward as the cloud continued to move with her. “This is nothing to me. I can see through this petty cloud!” she said.
Night Girl jumped into the cloud of darkness and charged into her with all her might. They fell to the ground as the super-strong Lydda Jath made good use of Tasmia Mallor’s artificial night. She struggled furiously with Ultragirl, because she knew just how swiftly her foe could move. All she had to do was move the battle out of the cloud, and Night Girl would lose her only power. Ultragirl received a good number of blows before kicking Lydda across the room and out of the cloud. Still, she was occupied long enough for Element Lad to enter the fight.
Jan Arrah was the last son of Trom, and he could identify with this woman who was apparently one of the few survivors of the planet Krypton of the other universe. Still, he had no hesitancy in changing the air around her head to lead. She screamed in anger and clawed the blinding mask off of her pretty face.
“I’ll kill you all!” she said, then suddenly gasped as she faced her own mother. “What? How?” she stammered.
Chameleon Boy had rightly guessed that, since she was so much like the Supergirl he had known, her mother would also resemble Kara Zor-El’s mother. He had seen holos of the Alura In-Ze of his universe and thus could mimic her flawlessly.
Ultragirl hesitated for the briefest of seconds before she stomped with one high-heeled boot and sent a gaping hole tearing across the rocky ground. Her false mother rose into the air to escape from the pit, and she smiled coldly.
“You’re the Durlan!” she cried. “You’ll pay dearly for that stunt!”
Element Lad swooped in and turned her costume into red kryptonite. She cried out as the bizarre element changed her to a frightened girl who began to weep. “Don’t hurt me! Please!” she cried.
Jan turned to Chameleon Boy and said, “We lucked out. It’s given her a number of phobias. I had no way to know precisely what it would do. I just knew that red K transforms a Kryptonian in some way. It was fortunate that it happened to have a similar effect on a Kryptonian from a parallel universe.”
Timber Wolf emerged from the shadows and carried the battered form of Spectrum over one shoulder. “He tried to beat me by using his powers to alter colors. I almost felt sorry for him,” said Brin Londo. He grinned wolfishly as he added, “Almost.”
Plague was not doing any better. She had found her every infection purged by the emerald light of the Green Guardian, who now contained the germ-creating girl in a fiery green cage. “Who needs medi-jections with my cleansing flame?” she said.
Polar Boy had been busy freezing the machines while White Witch shattered them with her own magic. He had joyfully freed the true Fire Lad, Color Kid, the other captive ex-Subs from the cavern as well.
Brainiac 5 felt pity and regret as he saw the double for his lost Kara suffer from the red kryptonite. Still, all he could do was remind himself that she was not truly the woman he had loved. “You are defeated,” he said. “I would surrender.”
The other Brainiac shook his head. “I think not. You and I are evenly matched. I shield our base from detection, and you still find us. I have my allies abduct their counterparts, and you place a spy in our group. I steal Brande’s equipment, and you manage to hide an ally among us again. Well done. Still, I have a trump card, as they say in mega-poker on Ventura.” He touched his own force-field belt. As one, the Legion fell in pain to the ground.
“What has he done?” gasped Dream Girl.
Brainiac smiled coldly. “I created a device that would draw upon our very essence as beings from a different universe to weaken your slightly different bodily compositions. You might say I am killing you all merely by being from the antimatter universe of Earth-Three.”
Brainiac 5 shook his head in disgust. “You knew I could not injure my allies in such a way to create a weapon of like nature. Still, I have an ally who is entirely composed of antimatter energy. Wildfire, now!”
He opened a small container he had been wearing over one shoulder. At that moment the disembodied cloud of energy that was Drake Burroughs surged forward to dispel the deadly energy Brainiac was generating from his belt.
“We appreciate your willingness to travel in that form,” said Brainiac 5. “I know you hate being out of your normal containment suit.”
Drake Burroughs vibrated the air so his words could be heard. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Once more the freak saves the day!” he said bitterly.
“In truth, that is my intent!” said a deep voice as a new figure appeared. He wore a long purple hood and robe.
“The Time Trapper!” gasped Shadow Lass as their old enemy stood before them.
Cosmic Boy called out in a commanding tone. “No. He is the one who tipped me off to the plot in the beginning. He is from their universe and is an ally to us!”
Brainiac sneered in disgust. “The Time Keeper! You would plague us still, even in another universe!”
“I came to alert these noble youths to your plot,” said the Time Keeper. “I am as ever loathe to take any direct action that might alter the natural flow of time. I know something you have failed to realize because of the haste of your departure from our universe. The Crisis did not destroy the world called Earth-Three, either in the twentieth century nor in the thirtieth due to waves of chronal destruction. Rather, after you fled to this universe, my ally the heroic Infinity gave his life and his nearly limitless energies to shift Earth-Three into the antimatter universe of Qward. He also altered time to allow those who would have died in that Crisis upon your Earth to have survived.”
“I assumed that the Crisis would retroactively eliminate both the present and future of Earth-Three,” said Ultragirl. “That’s why, even though I first escaped from the Survival Zone after the Crisis and then came to meet my lover in the Cabal of Super-Criminals, I expected all eras to be lost!”
“Fascinating,” said Brainiac. “Then all our efforts were for naught. We had best return to our proper universe to conquer it once more!”
“You shall return, but know that I shall ever use my minions to fight you!” said the Time Keeper.
In a flash, all of the evil Legion had vanished along with their crafts. The Time Keeper gestured, and all of the stolen and damaged equipment taken from Brande’s Asteroid as well as the stolen Starstone also flickered away.
“I have returned and restored these items to their proper places and conditions,” he said. “Though I have a vow not to alter time with my powers, I owe you this much. Granite is also back in his universe. I have taken him out of imprisonment in your quarters.”
Cosmic Boy placed a hand on Brainiac 5’s arm. “I’m sorry about Ultragirl. I know seeing her had to be hard.”
Brainiac 5 shrugged slightly. “Indeed. I suppose the pain only reinforces the fact that I am capable of emotions in spite of the introverted nature of my personality. I appreciate your concern. I suppose the irony is that time will heal this wound, too.”
The Time Keeper vanished along with Mano and Green Guardian, who shouted out as they left, “We thank you for your help. You are allies I shall ever hold dear!”
Dream Girl smirked. “Now that is what I call irony.”
Timber Wolf grinned. “Nah. Irony would be an alternate Dream Girl who would not wear makeup!” He received a look of scorn from the shapely Nura Nal as the others laughed.