Shadow Lass had been trained from childhood in the use of the sword. She had excelled with the weapon, although her life with the Legion of Super-Heroes had rendered her skill almost unnecessary. The galaxy-spanning heroes seldom encountered foes who relied upon such ancient weapons. Still, Tasmia Mallor had not neglected her practice sessions, and she was rather exhilarated to face a foe who embodied so much her culture had always viewed with fear or disdain. This was to be a most personal combat, and she felt that she was truly serving her people as their champion once again.
Tasmia circled the old nomad as he drew closer and waved his blade at her. The weapons met with a clash of metal, and she felt the force of his anger as he raked the blade across her own. Shadow Lass allowed herself to be forced backward as they scrambled over the broken terrain along the side of the partially opened burial place. She countered Kyack Ze’s thrust and spun around to deflect yet another attack from the bitter nomad.
Kyack Ze was a powerful fighter, and he was skillful in using the blade. Tasmia was likewise in great shape and felt no fatigue as they continued to fight. She felt that she had an advantage over him as well. He was fighting a lost cause. His army had been routed by her friends, and his hopes for a lost weapon of power were obviously fading as well.
Shadow Lass concentrated and danced above a fierce lunge. She landed and connected with her own blade as it cut across his arm. He cursed and dropped the blade as the heroine darted forward and placed her own sword against his chest. “You’ve lost, Kyack Ze!” she said with a radiant smile as her people cheered.
She noticed the Legionnaires had secured the remaining villains, and the desert raiders were scattered in defeat. Mon-El rushed forward to swing her into his arms as he congratulated her. “You did it!” he said. “That was some fancy footwork.”
Tasmia smiled and said, “I feel like I’ve made my ancestors proud!” Kyack Ze and the Black Mace Gang were led away by some city guards. Shadow Lass turned to gaze at her cousin and then stared down at the partially opened grave. “Grev, when we were fighting along the edge of that grave, I felt something! It was just an impression, but I almost think something is alive down there!”
Grev nodded and said, “Me, too. I sensed it. I think all of the Talokians did!”
“I can confirm that,” said Saturn Girl. “Whatever is down there has a sentience that is palpable.” Her comment was a bit late, since moments later, the ground shook as a humanoid figure emerged from below.
“Shades of my ancestors!” whispered Shadow Lass.
The being stood no taller than Tasmia did, but it had no discernible features. The head, if it could be called that, consisted of nothing more than a gleaming red sphere. The limbs were frail and hung by the sides of the narrow body as if they were of no use to the creature.
“That must be one of the Kings from the Stars!” said Grev. “The Star Kings still live!”
“Only one of them has survived, but apparently he has been in some kind of suspended animation ever since our ancestor trapped him there!” said Tasmia. “That doomsday weapon they were making didn’t kill all of them when Mallor broke it!”
Saturn Girl turned to Mystelor and said, “I can sense its mind, but I can’t comprehend what it is thinking!”
The sultry Zera shook her head. “I can’t do more than feel it. You know from before that I’m not in your league when it comes to our native gifts!”
Timber Wolf stepped protectively in front of Ayla and said, “That thing has no eyes! How does it see? How does it even breathe?”
“I think it does all of those things,” said Mon-El, “but not in any way we are familiar with from our own experiences with more humanoid types!”
Shadow Lass stepped forward to face the creature. She felt that every eye was upon her. “What do you want? My ancestor prevented your kind from ruling our world once, and we will do so again!”
The creature seemed to ignore her. It turned and casually gestured at the city wall. It turned to dust before their eyes. The star king flew away into space, leaving the startled Legionnaires behind.
“We must rebuild the walls!” said Grev. “The Terra-Mahor may be defeated, but they will return!”
“We must do that,” agreed Tasmia. “However, we also have to follow that thing. We can’t let it build another super-weapon on some other world!”
“Zera and I wish to accompany you,” said Quanto. “We will follow that creature through space until we can stop it or contain it!”
“Speaking for the Legion, I can only agree,” said Star Boy. “I’m going to assemble more of the team, and we’ll track it down!”
The heroes had liberated Talok VIII, but now they knew they had a bigger task before them. It would lead them into unexpected meetings and dangerous territory.