Back on the planet Hayna, Magnetic Kid placed his hands against the head of the captive Dark Circle member cloned from a Somahturian. She remained still in stasis, and he gently guided his hands along her skull until he reached an exact position for each palm. “Based on the data the Science Police gathered from an examination of the bodies of previously captured Dark Circle clones, they manage to commit suicide via bio-mechanical implants in the skull,” he said. “Quislet’s data, based on his own entrance inside one such implant, should allow me to locate and delicately adjust the function of those implants, like so!”
As he used his magnetic powers, sweat beaded his brow. He had never used his powers for such a delicate procedure before. Still, he was eager, and he knew one of his own merits consisted of the innovative ways he found to use his powers, which were weaker than those of his Earth-born sibling.
“You did it!” cried Quislet. “Maximum kudos!”
“She’s out cold, but not dead,” said Magnetic Kid. “I’ve found the precise magnetic wavelength at which to get those implants to knock out the clones but not kill them! If you had not given me your firsthand impression of how those things function, based on your own earlier trip within one of the ones confiscated, I’d have been lost!”
Magnetic Kid turned and flew out of the cruiser at top speed with his friends following behind. Reaching the battlefield, he sent waves of magnetic force over the Dark Circle troops. He regulated the exact nature of the magnetic pulse and smiled with pleasure and pride as every one of the clones collapsed into a stunned condition.
“Great work!” cried Star Boy. “Because of their fear of betrayal, the Dark Circle masters implanted those suicide bio-devices in every soldier, even those who were not clones. We’ve won a major victory!”
Dream Girl kissed him passionately and said, “It was your plan, Thom! You did this yourself!”
Thom Kallor smiled and accepted the praise of his friends, then said, “Thanks, but Pol and Quislet really made it happen!”
At that moment, each Legionnaire’s flight ring generated a holographic display of Bouncing Boy. “You need to get to Manna-5!” he cried. “The Dark Circle is going to secretly poison the food supply meant for Weber’s World! Dev-Em told me. He’s on his way there now!”
“That’s more like the creepy method of operation we’ve come to expect from those robed goons!” said Sun Boy.
“Nura, Jacques, wrap up things here,” said Star Boy. “Help the local troops to round up the stunned Dark Circle members and place them in stasis before they can revive. The rest of you come with me!”
The Legionnaires were soon in their cruiser in deep space. Sun Boy’s expert piloting skills enabled them to reach Manna-5 in record time. As expected, everything looked peaceful on the lush agricultural world. Golden fields of crops and green rows of vegetation covered the massive planet, along with sparkling streams and gentle winds. It was a world of plenty, and as such it served its role in the U.P. as a provider of food for many other member worlds.
Mon-El scanned the area and said, “The processing center is the only building on this world except for the homes of the workers. Of course, the majority of the work is performed by robo-droids, so the natives mainly just operate the machines or do routine repairs. I’ll go check in with the farm matriarch.”
“Obviously, any pale-hued Somahturian would stick out like a needle in the proverbial haystack on this world of golden-skinned humanoids,” said Star Boy. “They have to be using distorters to conceal their appearance.”
“Any distorter would give off a faint magnetic signal that my powers can locate,” said Magnetic Kid. “I’ve got to be careful, though. I don’t want to accidentally mess up some poor person’s medical device!”
“Quislet likes it here! These people are gorgeous!” Quislet hovered in place as they looked around the lush world and saw the attractive natives at work.
Sun Boy smiled appreciatively as he watched the golden-complexioned women at work. Most of them only wore the traditional brief outfits associated with natives of Manna-5. “I could enjoy it here,” he said. “Lots of sun and fun!”
“This is not the time for your hobby, Dirk,” said Star Boy.
“We’re attracting attention as well!” said Magnetic Kid. “I can’t detect a distorter, either! Something is blocking any signal from such a device!”
“What about the bio-implants?” asked Star Boy. “Can you detect anything like those? Surely any agent here would contain one!”
Mon-El returned and said, “I’ve alerted the matriarch. She says no new arrivals have been spotted. She did secure the current supply destined from shipment, though. It looks like we’re in time!”
“Quislet getting bored.”
Star Boy frowned at the comment.
Magnetic Kid shrugged in surprise. “No luck! Not only can I find no trace of any distorter in use, but I also can’t sense any bio-implant.”
“How about a medical attempt?” asked Sun Boy. “The Somahturians are living plagues in the making. Wouldn’t they have any unique bio-signature that could be traced? I know foes have tracked Superboy and other Kryptonians before via such devices attuned to their metabolisms.”
“Better still, Chuck said Dev-Em was already here when he called us,” said Mon-El. “We’ve already got devices aboard the ship that would allow us to locate Dev simply, because as Dirk said, he’s Kryptonian! If we find him, we’ll find the Dark Circle!”
They worked swiftly, and Mon-El’s super-speed and skill enabled him to create such a tracker. It was effortless for one with his super-speed and his knowledge of Kryptonian genetics, as Daxamites were closely related to Kryptonians in terms of genetic structure. “He’s here, all right!” he said. “I detect him or a Kryptonian directly below the main granary. Apparently there is a hidden chamber beneath it. It must date back to the founding of this world. It is lead-lined, so I can’t see through it.”
The Legionnaires smashed through the floor of the granary and there found a large chamber in which around two dozen Dark Circle troops and a bound Dev-Em could be found. “Man! Dev found them and was captured in record time,” said Sun Boy as he blasted away at the soldiers. “This spy thing may not be his best career choice!”
“Now I sense the bio-implants, too!” said Magnetic Kid. He gestured, and several troopers fell to the ground. The other Dark Circle soldiers began to attack, and blaster fire filled the chamber.
Quislet animated a lead-lined wall and wrapped himself around a glowing piece of green kryptonite that held Dev-Em weak and helpless. “Quislet save day!” he chirped.
Mon-El ripped up the floor and sent a squad of the troops rolling across the room. Star Boy jumped forward and made a second group of soldiers drop to the ground as their own weight pinned them like flies in amber.
Then, from out of the shadows, stepped a large equine figure and two Somahturians.
“Dr. Golgoth!” said Mon-El. “You must be the original! You lack any bio-implant! Most of your bodyguards don’t have them, either!”
“I am indeed the original, and my personal bodyguards are loyal only to me,” said Golgoth. “Thus they need no artificial means of securing their undying devotion.”
Dev-Em sat up slowly and said, “He’s the real deal. The two women are helping him of their own free will!”
Sun Boy frowned and blasted a row of troops aside with a ring of fire. “They aren’t clones! These must be the original Somahturians from Multivac!”
One of the pale beauties said, “We were the captives of Multivac! The Dark Circle freed us from our enslavement, and we gladly allowed them to clone us. We hate all the U.P. stands for! How could we not resent a group that imprisoned us like lab rats and kept our world in isolation?”
The other woman said, “It is so! Now we’ll make your precious United Planets pay!” She gestured, and Sun Boy gasped in pain.
“She’s getting through the transsuit!” Sun Boy said as he fell to his knees. Magnetic Kid followed suit as fever swept over him, and he collapsed in pain.
“Stop it!” shouted Star Boy. “You must be more powerful than your clones, since you’ve managed to penetrate our transsuits, but we won’t let you win!” He heard a cry to his left and saw Mon-El pitch forward to the ground.
“Daxamite red death!” gasped Mon-El. “One of the worst diseases from my world!”
One of the women laughed bitterly and said, “If a germ may harm an immune system or erode the protection of any medical balm, we may sense it and make it so!”
Star Boy felt his sides begin to ache, and the room started to spin around him. “Can’t bring down the chamber around us without hurting my pals, too!” he whispered, and then he knew no more.
Quislet, immune to any germ within his silvery ship, tried to fight back by animating a row of old harvesting machines. He charged at the two women, but his progress ended as he was caught in a web of energy.
“That creature can’t emerge from his protective ship without being absorbed into my energy net,” said a grinning Dr. Golgoth. “I took precautions for him after seeing what he did on Multivac via my slaves.”
Dev-Em struggled to his feet, only to fall back down as one of the women struck him with Virus X again.
“My dears, burn him to death with fever!” commanded the grinning Dr. Golgoth. But before he could enjoy the spectacle, Golgoth fell flat as the entire room shook with the force of an earthquake. He struggled to rise and saw a new figure enter the room from above.
She was clearly a native of Manna-5, as shown by her golden skin, long platinum blonde hair, and perhaps more tellingly by her aura of complete and total assurance. She belonged to this planet, and she displayed a confidence and proprietary nature in her every graceful movement.
“I have been summoned by the cries of my heart’s-soil in peril!” she shouted. “I have felt the pain of the poisons and toxins you have dared to bring here! I have felt and heard all this, and I have come to avenge the wrongs you have done! I have come to fight for my world!” She gestured, and air solidified into an impenetrable but transparent cocoon around the three invaders.
Dr. Golgoth struggled in rage, but he was helpless, as were his two Somahturian allies. Encased as they were, they could not attack in any way.
The shapely blonde bent over the Legionnaires one by one, and her touch revived and healed them in turn. As she helped Star Boy to his feet, Dream Girl and Invisible Kid rushed inside.
“We tracked you via the flight rings. Just what are you doing to my man?” demanded an indignant Dream Girl as she saw the golden-hued woman with her arms around Thom Kallor.
“Nura, she rescued us from the Dark Circle,” he said. “I feel like a billion credits! Your touch seemed to heal us!”
The blonde woman stood regally before the heroes and smiled. “Naturally, on my world, I have many powers,” she whispered. “One gift I possess here is the ability to right that which is wrong with the natural order as I see it. I am Manna-5’s goddess of nature! My people know me as Xera. I have dealt with those who would harm my followers, and I have restored the natural order, as is my will and my way!”
Sun Boy nudged Jacques Foccart and said, “A goddess? Nura’s turning green!” Dream Girl sniffed haughtily and turned her head.
“We owe you a great debt,” said Star Boy. “The Dark Circle wanted to kill us all and poison your world’s food in order to attack our allies.”
Xera tossed back her silvery-white hair and said, “Such effrontery will never be allowed! Not here!”
“We’ll place them in stasis and take them in,” said Mon-El. “Since we have the originals, I’d say the White Witch can use a variant of a spell she once used to return all the clones the Dark Circle made of Dev-Em to a single original being.”
“It feels great to have scored a real victory over those goons,” said Sun Boy. “With Dr. Golgoth, here, in custody, we may find answers we need to shut them down for good!”
Mon-El turned to Dev-Em and said, “How about you, buddy? Are you feeling better? You’ve had a rough time of it!”
Dev-Em nodded, then resumed his customary bravado. “Yeah, I had to turn to you guys for help. I must be slipping!” He turned to face Xera and said, “Speaking of slipping, how about slipping into something more comfortable and spending some time with me?”
Xera stared at him for a moment and then turned back to face Star Boy. “I find the idea of a band of champions like your Legion to be fascinating. Are you the king of this pantheon?”
Dream Girl began to sputter in surprise and anger until Star Boy interrupted.
“Xera, we’re mortals,” he said. “Our powers come from circumstances of birth or accident. We just try to use them to help people and keep justice. I am the leader, but not a king!”
Xera smiled and whispered, “I see. Most fascinating! We will meet again, Star Boy!”
Dream Girl stalked out of the room and left the others to follow in her wake.
Star Boy turned to Sun Boy and said, “We saved the U.P., but I still feel like I’m in trouble. Nura’s mad again. I think my victory night is going to consist of a game of D and D!”
Sun Boy smiled and said, “Actually, I thought I might take some leave and hang around here for a bit.”