Dream Girl jumped into Star Boy’s arms as she saw his victory. “I knew you’d win, but it still feels delightful to see it made known!” she said.
Star Boy kissed her and said, “This is wonderful! I’ll make you proud. You know, Nura, I’ve always wanted to impress you. I recall the first time we met. You had approached the Legion in order to save the team from an impending fatal accident you had envisioned while searching for your missing sister!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Menace of Dream Girl,” Adventure Comics #317 (February, 1964).]
Nura Nal tossed back her platinum hair and said, “Yes! I didn’t find Mysa then, but I found a place with the team, and I found you!”
“All of the guys were crazy over you!” said Thom Kallor. “Mon-El was really drawn to you. He said it was because of your shared interests in science, but I think he was covering up for a more basic attraction.”
“Well, he does have super-vision!” she quipped. “Thom, I have big plans for us. I think we should–!”
Thom interrupted her in his excitement. “Nura, I saw more than your beauty and brains. It was your sweetness that won me over. When it appeared as if you had only joined in order to manipulate some of the others into being expelled from the team, I was really hurt. I cared for you so much!”
She nodded sincerely. “You broke down into tears! Your faith in me as a good and pure woman was so strong that it shook you that badly to see me cast in a bad light.”
“I was right all along, though,” he said. “You only manipulated them into being expelled, because you thought that if you could remove them from the team, they could not possibly suffer the fatal accident you envisioned as their future! You were a real heroine, although the others couldn’t see it. I knew your heart even then.”
Dream Girl stared into his eyes, and she felt strangely moved. She turned away, and tears glistened on her long lashes. “Thom, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry! I’ve been a real witch. Maybe being leader went to my head. Maybe having Mysa on the team made me want to assert myself and impress her with her big sister’s importance. All I can say is that I’m sorry. If you still see me as the woman you fell for back then, then I’ll try to be that person again!”
Star Boy took her into his arms and said, “Nura, I waited for you after you left the team when your vision was shown to have been merely an accident that struck lookalike Legion android dummies. I missed you, and I pined for you. When we were reunited in the Subs, I felt as if my own dreams had come true! I forgive you! You wouldn’t be Dream Girl if you weren’t a bit spoiled at times, right?”
Nura laughed and looked at him with an earnest gaze that displayed more natural beauty and less artifice than usual. “Thom Kallor, I love you! You’ve shamed me into realizing that I have been wrong in so many things. You will be the best leader this team has ever seen! I want you to know that I will be your most loyal supporter. That’s what I plan on being. I will stick by you and help you, but you don’t have to worry about my trying to control you.”
“I love you, too, but I don’t expect you to suppress you own views,” said Thom. “I love you for being so strong!”
“You’ll do wonderfully!” she said.
“Is that based on a vision of the future?” asked Thom.
Nura kissed him again and said, “It’s based on my faith in you!”
In the Metropolis home that university teacher and former Earth President Marte Allon shared with her husband Wynn Allon, an uneasy dinner party droned onward with tension and silence hanging in the air.
Gym Allon, alias Colossal Boy of the Legion, shifted slightly and glanced at his wife Yera. The Durlan actress sensed his discomfort. She knew the reason as well as he did. His folks had still not fully accepted her as a daughter-in-law. They were cordial, but nothing more. She sighed and looked at the stolid Wynn Allon.
Gym’s father had been an admiral in the U.P. Space Fleet. He still had the look of a dashing, if stern military man. He had encountered countless alien races in his career. He had even commanded ships that had taken part in the U.P. quarantine of Durla. She knew he should not be so difficult to reach. He had worked with aliens before. His wife Marte had served as Earth president and had been so eager to prove that she had not been favoring her son’s team that she had been a severe critic at times to the young heroes. That kind of independence should have enabled her to accept change. Still, the young couple had not entirely won over his parents since their marriage.
Wynn cleared his throat. “Hans Skon died last night. His hovercycle failed over the Old Boston sector of Metropolis. Death was instantaneous. He was a good man. He served alongside me for years.”
“I’m sorry, Dad,” said Gym. “I know he was not the only service pal you’ve lost recently. Didn’t Karl Klas die in a fire earlier this year?”
Wynn nodded wearily. “Yes. It makes me want to reunite with the other senior crew members of my old ship for one last get together.”
“Well, I can tell you I’m in no hurry to see my former political team again,” said Marte. “President Stewart offered me an advisory position in his education department, but I turned it down.”
“Why?” asked Yera. “I thought you loved working.”
“Not quite,” said Marte. “I love teaching. That’s why I’m going to keep teaching at Metropolis University as long as they will have me.”
“We have some news, too,” said Gym. He took Yera’s hand and cleared his throat. “We’re going to have a baby! Yera’s pregnant!” he said in a rush.
Marte and Wynn gasped and stood up to embrace the pair.
“Congratulations, son!” cried Wynn. “We’ll make her or him into a better admiral than I ever was!”
Marte hugged Gym and Yera and said, “That’s wonderful, but isn’t it a bit soon? You’ve barely had time to adjust to life as a couple. You two know the difficulties facing a child of mixed heritage. Are you prepared?”
“Marte, we are prepared to love our child,” said Yera. “We are prepared to protect our child. Surely that is all any parent can do. And we may rely on you and Wynn for help as well?”
“Yes, of course,” said Marte. “I’m sorry to be such a wet blanket, as they used to say. We’ll be there for the three of you, come what may!”
Gym smiled in relief. He was very nervous about becoming a father, but he was eager and excited, too. He hoped the year to come would bring much joy to his family. Had he been from the world of Naltor, he might have envisioned how very different the future would be.
In a lab within a wing of the huge Legion complex, a rotund figure looked down at the still form of a beautiful woman. He was Chuck Taine, and she was his comatose wife Luornu Durgo Taine, and they were the former Legionnaires known as Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel. She was silent and stared vacantly into space. He took her hand tenderly and shook his head in sorrow.
“Lu, I can’t stand to lose you,” he said. “I have to save you at any cost. The others have been great. Brainiac 5 stayed here with you for hours making scans. Nura did her part, too. Dr. Gym’ll suggested we take you to the critical care unit Multivac over Mercury, but you’re not dead. I mean, not really. I don’t want to go there unless there’s no other way. That would be like giving up. I have another idea. That’s why I brought you here while the others are occupied with the election.
“I’ve always tried to be a cheerful guy who made the best of what life gave him,” he continued with a whisper. “I always tell our pupils at the Legion Academy to learn to use whatever their powers are to maximum effect. I didn’t do too badly as a Legionnaire for a fat guy who gets bloated. I got you, after all! Well, maybe I still have one heroic act left in me. I’d do anything to heal you!”
Turning away from the woman he loved, Chuck carefully strapped several metallic wires to her body. He noticed that she showed no reaction to anything he did. He placed his own plump hands within straps that led to a machine that extended above and over Lu’s body.
“I’m no Brainy, but this portable generator will allow me to power the machine enough to do what has to be done,” he said. “Remember I love you, Lu!”
But before he could lower the switch that would send the current racing through his body, the wires, and his wife, a blur swept into the room and ripped the wires out of the machine. Chuck gasped and looked up to see a heroic and compassionate figure in red and blue. “Mon-El? Lar, this doesn’t concern you,” he said.
“Chuck, aside from the fact that this is my lab and the equipment came from my home of Daxam, it does concern me, since we’re all friends,” said Lar Gand, alias Mon-El. “I had a suspicion that you might be desperate enough to try to use my Daxamite life exchanger to try to cure Lu. I had to stop you.”
“Mon-El, I’ll save her, even if I have to fight you to do it!” vowed Chuck.
Mon-El glanced at the determined young man and extended one hand. “Chuck, the machine won’t work on a Carggian. Plus, Lu’s body has been altered even from what is natural for her people. I know that the machine would have done nothing except end your life without giving your life essence to her. You know her world has three suns. The odd radiation of that world makes Carggians different from other races. My machine would not revive her. It would have ended your life for nothing.”
Chuck allowed the other hero to grasp his arm and gently lead him away from the machine. “Mon, when Lightning Lad was injured fighting Zaryan long ago, we thought he was dead. He was in a deathlike state like Lu. I thought the same machine that enabled Proty to give his life in order to revive Garth would let me give mine to bring Lu back. (*) I guess I wasn’t thinking. I just felt so desperate. I had to do something. I couldn’t stand the inactivity of just watching and waiting helplessly. You wouldn’t understand. With all your power, you couldn’t know what that’s like!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Super-Sacrifice of the Legionnaires,” Adventure Comics #312 (September, 1963).]
Mon-El looked at his friend in silence.
Chuck slapped his palm against his face. “I’m an idiot! You were helpless in the Phantom Zone for over a thousand years! You know what I’m feeling more than anyone. I’m sorry.”
“You are not an idiot,” said Mon-El. “You are a brave man in love. The machine won’t help you, so let’s pack it away. We’ll find some answer. If my stay in the zone taught me anything beyond patience, it was faith. Things can always get better. Never give up!”
Chuck nodded, and the two men began to disassemble the equipment.
The next morning found almost the entire team assembled around the huge table in their main meeting chamber. Star Boy sat at the head of the table, while Blok as deputy leader sat to his right.
Blok had accepted the role of second-in-command with a mixture of pride and trepidation. However, he looked now to Star Boy with loyalty and interest.
Thom Kallor glanced around the table and cleared his throat. “I wanted to let you all know that, as leader, I hope to keep up the noble tradition of service and success that our group has always embodied. I’ve decided to make a few changes effective immediately, since change has always been one of our traditions!” he said with a nervous laugh.
Wildfire leaned back in his chair and rested one leg on the table. He leaned over to Timber Wolf and said, “Here it comes. This should be good!” Dream Girl glared at him silently.
“Tellus has resigned in good standing,” continued Star Boy. “He has decided to take what he has learned in the academy and as a member of the team and use it to teach his people about the world beyond Great Mother Ocean. He has recovered fully from his injuries. Saturn Girl has said she will continue on as a member in his place. Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy are both going to maintain their senior advisor status. Bouncing Boy has taken temporary leave from his role as head instructor at the Legion Academy in order to tend to Duo Damsel. While he is on leave and she is ill, their duties will be shared by a number of us on a rotating basis. Because of his familiarity with the pupils and his role as permanent member of the recruitment committee, Wildfire will shoulder the majority of the teaching duties, with assists from the rest of us!”
Wildfire jumped up abruptly and said, “Now, hold it! I didn’t sign on to be a desk jockey!”
Blok said, “Wildfire, my friend, it is because of your passion for the young pupils and the excitement you bring to your role of Legionnaire that makes you perfect to show them the way. You’ve often said that you worry about where our next generation of members will be found. This gives you the best opportunity to act as custodian of that next wave of heroes!”
“Well, yeah, sure,” said Wildfire. “But don’t think I’m going to sit out the rest of your term as a cheerleader.”
“Thanks, Blok. Thanks, Drake. I knew we could count on you,” said Star Boy. “I’ve talked to President Stewart, and as you know, he drove through a resolution that removed the tax burden that previously limited our membership to twenty-five. I’ve also spent some time with the founders and the Constitutional Committee. We’re also removing the barriers to membership that duplication of powers once created. In practice we had ignored that clause for some time, and in light of our larger role as guardians of U.P. space and beyond, I see no sense in doing anything that will limit our potential growth because a worthy applicant’s powers are already accounted for in the roster.
“I will close by saying that I’ve been approached by an aide to President Stewart who wanted us to consider a gradual addition to our team consisting of a member from each U.P. planet member world,” Star Boy continued. “I told him that we will still welcome any worthy recruit, but we will not accept anyone merely to fill a quota.”
Sun Boy elbowed Element Lad and said, “Thom is off to a good start! It sounds like our pal is really getting things moving!”
Element Lad smiled in reply. “I think you’re right, Dirk.”
Far off in deep space, an old man rubbed his hands together with anticipation. He looked around at the stars around his ship, and he sighed with contentment.
“I’ve been away too long,” he said. “It’s time I returned to Earth. It’s time to finish some old business!”
His trip would lead to more changes for the Legion, but not for a while.