Later, Tasmia Mallor groaned and tried to move her aching body, only to find that she had been drugged so that her movements and her mind were clouded. She did turn to see Grev Mallor sitting next to her. He was bruised and battered but alive. His heavy eyelids indicated that he had also been drugged.
“Tassy, didn’t know if you were real or just a dream,” he said slowly.
Tasmia embraced him and said, “You knew I’d come for you. What did they do to us?”
Kyack Ze leaned over and gripped her chin in his hand. He raised her head and stared down at her with a smug look of triumph etched across his weathered features. His long hair and his beard made a stark contrast to his otherwise sharp and angular features. “I gave you all a dose of the yimmick herb that grows among the mountains nearby. It will keep all of you sluggish and tractable. However, I fear we’ve had to use more drastic means in order to contain the one you call Mon-El!”
Shadow Lass allowed the demon of the desert to turn her head until she saw Lar Gand laying on the rocky floor of the shattered shrine of the Mallors. Shagrek loomed over him, and his destructive energy irradiated the still form of the Daxamite hero.
“Aye, Shagrek has to keep him down with constant use of his fiery beams!” said Kyack Ze. “This Mon-El is a deadly one! He almost shattered all of our tanks!”
Shadow Lass stared at the ruins of their sacred cavern and said, “You destroyed our shrine! How could you so disregard the power of the past?”
Kyack Ze laughed harshly and said, “Ah, pretty one, you wrong me! I worship the past. It is because of the past that I have led my Tarra-Mahor against your city. You see, I recall the ways in which your kind treated my people like vermin. I recall eons of abuse and scorn. I have much pain, and I will inflict twice as much suffering upon your city ilk!”
Shadow Lass tried to create a shadowy sphere, but nothing happened. She saw the reason for her lack of success. Quanto stood to one side and periodically cast his blinding light over the two Mallors. He still wore a look of supreme sorrow on his narrow face. She also saw Lightning Lass, Timber Wolf, Saturn Girl, and Star Boy resting in the rear. All of them were drugged, and none of them stirred beyond a slight tremor or groan.
“Your alien friends suffer more from the yimmick herb than we Talokians do,” explained Kyack Ze with a leer. “That will only render the blonde wench more willing when I give her to Gharf.”
Tasmia said nothing, but she struggled inside. She was trying desperately to shake off the effects of the herb. She was able to keep awake, and she was able to regulate her breathing. She had learned a few meditation techniques from the late Karate Kid, and she was using them now to fight the herb’s tranquilizing power.
I can’t use my power because of Quanto, but I am regaining my physical strength, she thought. If Kyack Ze does not drug me again, I might be able to escape and summon help. I can’t stand to see Lar suffer like that!
Kyack Ze leaned over and whispered in her ear. “I have plans for the aliens I hired to help me take your city,” he hissed. “They will feel my power as well when I no longer need them!”
An hour passed, and then a soldier approached the base. He bowed low and said, “Great master, I bring news of victory! The allies you brought us from the stars have entered the city and opened the gates. We now occupy Ibid-Ganar!”
Kyack Ze yelled in triumph and smiled broadly. “It is done!” he cried. “After eons of isolation and rejection, the Tarra-Mahor have gained what should have always been ours!” Cheers echoed through his camp as his personal guards received the news.
Kyack’s look of victory changed rapidly to an expression of anger and dismay as Quanto suddenly blasted him across the rocky soil with a concentrated light-beam. The normally benign-looking alien was furious, and he fought with the same intensity that was displayed on his face.
“You vermin! You tried to drag me down to your level!” said Quanto. “You tried to keep me from my proper calling! That is the worst thing that can be done to one of my kind! Well, I am free, as is my beloved! Now Quanto fights as he chooses!” He used his amazing array of light-based powers to blind, stun, or rout the desert warriors, and he called out to the captive Legionnaires in an earnest appeal. “I beg forgiveness, Legionnaires! I will make amends!”
Shagrek roared and turned to reach for the super-swift youth, but the monster could not hope to catch him. As he was distracted from his other target, Shagrek failed to continue the barrage of energy that kept Mon-El down. That would prove to be a deadly error.
Mon-El suddenly jumped to his feet and crashed into the huge monster. He hit it again and again and lifted Shagrek into the air. “You can’t hit me with your rays when I’m this close to you!” he said. “That’s too bad, since no matter how big you are, you just don’t measure up to me in terms of raw strength!”
Tasmia pushed herself to her feet and helped Grev stand as well. Kyack Ze had vanished in the confusion. He had apparently abandoned his men to face the heroes on their own. Helping Lightning Lass up, Shadow Lass turned to see Saturn Girl already on her feet.
“My training at the Mind Institute gave me an advantage in resisting the drug,” explained Saturn Girl. “I sensed the nearby presence of another Titanian mind. I broadcast that fact and directions to the woman I sensed to Quanto, and he rushed off to investigate. It seems that Ze was holding Quanto’s girlfriend Mystelor captive in a hidden location to force him to serve the Black Mace Gang!”
“That is correct,” explained Quanto. “I was enslaved by Black Mace and Ze because I could do nothing to fight them while they held Zera. Keeping her safe and on the straight and narrow is my calling!”
A sultry, raven-haired woman in a skimpy pink costume came out into view, and Quanto rushed down to hold her in his arms. “Zera, did they harm you?” he asked.
Zera Oliet, alias Mystelor, shook her head and said, “I am fine, now that we are together!”
Star Boy muttered slowly, “Mystelor! I wondered why you were not with the other Black Mace Gang members! I knew you and Quanto had betrayed the old Taurus Gang to reform long ago!”
“Nice going, Imra!” said Timber Wolf. “You saved us all! Still, I never saw Quanto leave. I mean, he was bathing you and Grev in the light all the time, right?”
Saturn Girl shook her head. “A solid light hologram double of Quanto was here, while the real one was following my mental directions to find and free Mystelor!”
Quanto shook his head remorsefully. “I had to keep you weakened while Ze was around. Until I knew Zera was safe, I had to obey that rogue!”
Zera smiled rather wickedly and said, “I’d like to see him again. I have a few talents of my own that he needs to feel!”
“Look!” said Shadow Lass. “It’s Lar!”
Indeed, Mon-El swooped down carrying a still Shagrek. “Taking this big oaf into the upper atmosphere was all it took to knock him out,” he said with a smile. “He is tough, but he still needs to breathe!” He kissed Tasmia and said, “I kept a eye and ear on you all while we fought. I’m glad to know we can count on Quanto and Mystelor as allies!”
“Now we retake Ibid-Ganar!” vowed Shadow Lass.
The Legionnaires hurried toward the captured city, Quanto, Mystelor, and Shadow Kid accompanying them.
“I think giving Shagrek that yimmick stuff was a great idea,” said Star Boy. “It took a lot of the stuff, but he’ll sleep until we can return and take him to Labyrinth.”
Lightning Lass flashed a smile and said, “Let’s just hope he wakes up with a headache like mine!”
“I want to make Black Mace’s head ache!” said Timber Wolf.
“I see all of them!” said Mon-El. “They are in one of the older sections of the city. As weird as it sounds, they seem to be excavating something around two miles from the rear gate!”
Shadow Kid frowned. “I don’t get it. Surely, Kyack Ze doesn’t believe we buried some fabulous treasure!”
Shadow Lass shook her head and corrected her cousin. “Grev, in a way we did, or at least our ancestors did! That sounds like the very spot on which our ancestor battled the Kings from the Stars!”
“Tassy, that’s just a myth!” said Shadow Kid.
“Grev, until I felt his foul breath in my face,” replied Tasmia, “I thought the demon of the desert was a myth!”
“Tasmia, just who or what were the Kings from the Stars?” asked Saturn Girl.
“Long ago, our world was conquered by aliens,” explained Shadow Lass. “The old records refer to these beings as the Kings from the Stars, or the Kings from Beyond the Stars. One of the Mallors killed them all in destroying a super-weapon they were building. They were buried according to the old tales. They were buried right where our enemies are digging!”
Timber Wolf scowled and said, “Grave-robbing! That’s low, even for a punk like Mick Yardeigh!”
“I have lived among those men,” said Quanto. “I know they would sink to any level to acquire personal power or wealth.” He carried Mystelor in his arms as they flew over the city, and she spoke to him in hushed tones.
“Be calm,” she said. “We escaped from them. We will help defeat them, and we will find our own path again.”
Mon-El led the others down to confront the Black Mace Gang. Kyack Ze was with them. “I believe we have some unsettled business!” declared the hero.
“Attack them!” ordered Kyack Ze. “If you want to earn the rewards I promised to you, keep them back!”
Chameleon Kid changed his shape until he became a green-skinned ogre with spiky skin. “I’d prefer to do this to Reep Daggle, but I can get my kicks by trashing his pals just as well!” he said.
“You body-builders really enjoy bragging about your muscles,” said Star Boy. “I guess I prefer to relax and leave the heavy lifting to others. Of course, just standing is heavy lifting for you now!” He increased the Durlan’s mass until his foe collapsed to the ground in a helpless rage. “Change into a fly. I’ll just watch you crush yourself. A tiny form couldn’t sustain this kind of pressure!” he said as he held the angry villain in place.
Phantom Lad was equally angry. He had been living well on his charm and his looks, and he resented being forced to fight foes who could actually challenge him. He jumped in Timber Wolf’s path and taunted him. He raised one hand to his own chin and said, “Come on, tough guy! Hit me! I dare you!”
Timber Wolf scowled and swung at the cocky man, only to see his blows pass harmlessly through the intangible phantom. As Phantom Lad leaned closer and continued his diatribe, Timber Wolf suddenly knocked him cold with one punch. Brin grinned at Imra and said, “Thanks! Glad you were able to mentally force him to turn solid just after you tipped me off!”
Saturn Girl was busy dodging Gharf, who seemed more eager than ever to become passionate with her. “You’ll make me a lovely decoration,” said the Khund warrior. “Perhaps I could use your head as a helmet!”
Saturn Girl grimaced and touched his face long enough to leave the Khund dazed for a moment. “You really know how to give a girl a pretty compliment!” she said.
Before Gharf could regain his composure, Mon-El knocked him flat. “He’s right!” he teased. “You would make a great hat!”
Lightning Lass was busy facing the burly Rogarth, who was still smarting from the way the girl from Winath had shocked him before. “You vixen! You won’t get me with your witchery! I am not wearing metal armor now! I’m wearing fur!” he cried as he raised a battle axe.
Ayla Ranzz taunted him by saying, “And it looks divine on you. Still, I think I prefer you all nice and shocked!” As she flew away, he roared in impotent rage from below.
Lightning Lass saw Mystelor slink up to the Avalonian, and she smiled as the black-haired beauty used her power of telekinesis to slam the warrior directly into Black Mace, who cursed and tried to avoid the lumbering brute. But what good was a fighter’s agility against Mystelor’s precise aim? Mystelor sent Black Mace reeling away again and again until he fell to the ground. Black Mace tried to reach his lost mace, but no sooner had he touched it, than Ayla had expertly cast a bolt that left him twitching on the ground.
Meanwhile, Shadow Lass had been closing in on Kyack Ze. Quanto and Shadow Kid had been helping Mon-El round up his scattered troops. The Terra-Mahor were defenseless against a powerhouse like Mon-El, and even Grev’s shadow power did much to rattle them, since they lacked the driving force of their mad leader.
“You have lost!” shouted Shadow Lass. “The demon of the desert can go back to being a myth!”
Kyack Ze was prying at a crudely built tomb when she caught him. “Curse you, Mallors!” he yelled. “If I had been able to find the lost weapon of the Kings from the Stars, I could have ruled this planet! Now take me if you must. I have no fear of your shadows!”
Shadow Lass smiled defiantly and said, “I’ll defeat you without using my powers!”
Kyack grinned wickedly and drew his scimitar. Tasmia picked up a sword as well, and she stood ready to duel with the nomad.