Bismoll was not a popular tourist attraction, since the planet’s toxic ecosystem produced food that could only be safely digested by the altered natives who could consume anything with ease due to generations of genetic change. For this reason, among others, few visitors chose to settle on the odd planet.
The Legion’s Sun Boy knew he had no desire to remain on the planet for even one second longer than was necessary to clear his father, industrialist Derek Morgna, of criminal charges the planet’s judiciary body had brought against the fiery-tempered man. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Legionnaires: Sun Boy: Burning Hatred, Epilogue: Graduation.]
Dirk Morgna, a handsome young man with reddish-blond hair and a winning manner, watched his father with a mixture of pride and concern. The older Morgna was a distinguished-looking man who refused to suffer fools lightly. Still, for all of his intractable ways, he had dealt with his current plight with a remarkable amount of self-control.
“We’ll get the matter cleared up, and then we’ll move on with the business of living!” he had barked.
Now Dirk glanced over to an extremely slender woman with long brown hair and a brief dress. M’Beal was the best lawyer credits could buy, and the brisk and confident woman had been tireless in her effort to settle the matter for her wealthy client.
“Bismoll has been the victim of several recent raids by mineral raiders,” said the lawyer as she addressed the group. “Evidence gathered from one such raid implicated you. Since Tenzil Kem is in the unique position of being both a Bismollian senator and a former Legionnaire, he took the responsibility of personally asking you to come here to defend yourself!”
“By the galaxy!” yelled Derek. “I’m aware of the situation. What I want is a solution! What I want is a way to clear myself from this space kangaroo court!”
“Now, Derek, as you know, the case being brought against you was not hastily put together on slender grounds,” she said. “In spite of his desire to appear impartial, Tenzil Kem actually went to great lengths to determine the facts before allowing the charges to be made.”
“The mighty Senator Kem wants us to think he’s still our old pal Matter-Eater Lad at heart, but I’d say he’s lost his team spirit in his quest for political power,” said Sun Boy. “He’s turned on me. I don’t appreciate it, and I doubt I’ll ever forget it!”
Shrinking Violet, a petite, dark-haired girl in a minidress of green, leaned forward and placed her hands on Dirk’s shoulders as she spoke. “Dirk, I know how you feel,” said Salu Digby. “I’m protective of my father, too. That’s why I was upset at first when he started dating your Dad’s ex-wife Flavia, but now I see she is good for him, and I’m pleased for them. It’s natural for you to resent the fact that others might not see your father in a positive light, but you can’t fault Tenzil for trying to do his duty to his people, while still trying to remain true to his days as Legionnaire! He’s not happy about having to bring a case against a friend’s father!”
Dirk smiled bitterly and said, “Yeah, you might say he’s eating his heart out over it!”
A pretty blonde woman in a shimmering blue suit stepped inside and scowled at them. “Making jokes about the Bismollian metabolism won’t win you any sympathy here, Dirk. I assure you, my life-partner is hurt by the way you’ve been treating him since he first came to Earth and explained the case. Tenzil thinks of you all as his friends, and he hates being forced to work against you!”
Deena Coe was Tenzil’s life-partner. This was the Bismollian term for spouse, and the pretty, tough blonde ruthlessly defended her loved one at every turn.
Dirk tossed up his hands and said, “Sorry! I’m not myself. I don’t really believe Tenzil has it in for me. I even understand about the demands that the role of senator places upon him. Those demands do not allow him to act in friendship. I get it, but I don’t have to like it.”
“Very well,” said Deena. “I am here to allow you to view the holos taken of the recent raid upon Bismoll’s few natural mineral resources, in which equipment developed by your father’s company and, in one case, actually handled by him personally was used!”
Derek turned to the willowy M’Beal and said, “Tell her again that I say I never touched the cursed machines, nor have I ever seen them before! The designs are beyond anything Morgna Industries even uses!”
“I heard you,” said Deena. “Still, the evidence speaks louder than your rather bellowing tones. You personally touched the machine we managed to damage in the last battle against the raiders!” She touched a small display unit, and holographic images illuminated the room.
The scene displayed consisted of an ore-processing plant outside the heart of Bismoll’s capital city, Brwan. As they followed their normal routine, the workers seemed almost somnambulant until an explosion shattered an outer wall of the plant and a squad of reddish-hued beings raced into the factory and started firing energy beams at the frightened staffers. As the staffers fled or tried to resist, the crimson aliens swarmed through the processing plant and steered powerful machines across the floor that dug deeply into the ground and channeled the ore into containers via a powerful suction effect. A small security force charged into battle and managed to bring down one of the digging machines as its occupants darted away.
The holo changed to a closer view of the damaged raiding device, and Deena stood beneath it as she gestured upward. “We ran a scan over the machine, and we found two intriguing facts. It was made by your company, and the only hand to touch it that left a means by which identification could be determined was your own!”
Derek stood up and said, “I told you before on Earth that I recently learned that one of my chief employees, Auric, was a robotic pawn of an old enemy of mine. Zaxton Regulus had used the robot to gain access to my company resources for his experiments. He could have created the machines with materials from my plants. I give you that, but I knew nothing about it. I could have touched the raw parts before he assembled them into that thing, but I tell you, young lady, that my company does not have anything like that machine in our inventory! The design is nothing like our Carson digging tools!”
Two newcomers stepped forward, and the others turned to see a curly haired, rugged older man with a lovely and dynamically dressed blonde woman.
Violet greeted her father Arn Digby and then said, “Dad, it was good of you and Flavia to come here to support Dirk and Mr. Morgna, but I don’t think you need to hang around here right now!”
“Salu, you’re wrong, for once!” said Arn. “I may play an important part in the matter! I am an expert on minerals. I’ve worked with them for years, and before I left our home planet of Imsk for my new position with the U.P. on Earth, I was approached by a man who offered to sell my company a machine much like that one!”
“If you’ve seen that machine before, then you might be able to clear me!” said Derek Morgna. “I can’t explain how I came to touch it, but I assure you all that I’ve never seen anything like it! It is too advanced for my company. The mining is a small part of the business, and I’ve seldom put a lot of time or energy into that field!”
Arn nodded as Flavia held his hand affectionately. “I’ve seen that kind of machine before. As you know, I am a mineralogist. I have worked on Earth, Imsk, and all around the United Planets. Before I accepted my current position on Earth, a man named Rolland Sa, who wanted to sell me designs for just such a machine, approached me. We could not agree on a price, and in truth, I didn’t trust him. I knew he had a criminal record. I turned him down and later learned of his death. I can tell you that those plans match the machine in that holo perfectly!”
“Dad, can you tell us who this Sa worked for before?” asked Shrinking Violet.
“I do know he once worked for A.D. Nolan of Interplanet Mines!” said Arn.
“Nolan?” said Derek. “He made a fortune in the mining business! While I know nothing about the device, he would be a natural for that kind of product!”
Sun Boy whispered to Shrinking Violet, “A.D. Nolan is more than just a wealthy miner. He was Ferro Lad’s father!”
Violet nodded and said, “Poor Ferro died long ago, but I think it looks pretty suspicious for two fathers of Legionnaires to be involved in something like this! Dad may have just brought us the break we need!”
Elsewhere, a thoughtful young man with blond hair and green skin gazed skyward through a small device of his own design. Brainiac 5 frowned as he lowered the scanner and looked away from the strange light of the three suns of the bleak planet Zoon.
“If my calculations are correct, then the instability I detected in this tri-stellar system is increasing at a speed beyond my worst projections!” said the Legionnaire genius.
A rugged man in brown and orange scratched his face and nodded. “Yeah, my birthplace is going to go boom!” said Timber Wolf, alias Brin Londo. “I was never too happy here, but I hate to see it go.”
“You were never very sentimental, Brin,” said Brainiac 5. “Still, even from a strictly scientific point of view, I also feel sorrow for the loss of such a unique environment.”
“It’s a stinking sinkhole, and it always has been!” said Brin. “My folks died here, and part of me thinks Zoon itself indirectly killed them. I mean, the toxicity levels are off the scale. That’s why Dad created those androids. He figured they could do the dangerous mining work around the Ebony Mountains, while the humans could remain in the safety of the city! Still, we all knew that those suns — the Three Eyes, as some old timers called them — would go bad eventually, and nothing Dad could do could stop that!”
Brainiac 5 placed his hand on Brin’s arm and said, “Take comfort in the fact that the U.P. Fleet has managed to evacuate the city in record time. Zoon itself may die, but its people will live on!”
High above the planet, two colorful Legionnaires communicated via the telepathic earplugs they wore.
The young man in red and blue was known as Mon-El, and the Daxamite hero had witnessed far too many losses in his bizarrely extended life. While Lar Gand was not very old in terms of normal age, he had spent an eternity as an ageless spirit within a ghostly dimension known as the Phantom Zone. The limbo had been intended as a sanctuary in his case, but it had truly been as much a prison to the young explorer and biotechnologist as it had been to the more malevolent criminals who shared exile within its limitless dimensions. Mon-El had been able to watch the universe around him without ever being able to make himself heard of seen or felt. He had watched moments of sorrow, loss, courage, and hope, and all of them had shaped him into a hero’s hero. Now, although thanks to the Legion he had been free for many years, he still viewed the world with a thoughtful, somber patience born of his own tragic experience.
Mon-El used his superhuman strength to carry a domed platform to a waiting U.P. Fleet spaceship and steadied it as thousands of occupants escaped from the doom that awaited their homeworld below. “We’re going to make it,” he said. “The Zoonians won’t die like the people of Krypton did!”
“Praise Rao for that! They also won’t die like the Kryptonians who escaped one death, only to meet another when Argo City fell to anti-kryptonite!” said Andromeda. Lesla Vol-Lar of Rokyn was a lovely blonde girl who flew by his side and carried an equally impressive platform in her own right. She wore a blue cape, a blue pleated miniskirt, a red blouse, and red boots, and after safely guiding the refugees to the starship above, she touched the necklace around her neck. The necklace depicted the twin stars of Ren-Re and Tar-Lu from Kryptonian and Rokynian legend.
Lesla’s violet eyes softened as she thought of her late parents and the homeworld of Rokyn that she might never see again. Rokyn had been settled by Kryptonians who had escaped from the death of their lost planet through diverse means. Now Rokyn was separated from this universe by a shift in the cosmic axis, and the teenage girl knew that she was truly all alone except for her friends in the Legion and the comforting legacy her legendary ancestors had left her.
Mon-El noticed her fingering the necklace, and he realized what she was feeling. “Andromeda, I know this must remind you of your ancestors Valor and Supergirl. They each survived the explosion that destroyed Krypton, and they went on to lead heroic lives that inspired sentients across the universe. I’d say they’d be proud of you! You’ve made a lot of progress since joining the team. You’re one of us now, and the Legion always takes care of its own!”
Lesla smiled and said, “Thank you!”
The pair returned to their work and soon joined Brainiac 5 and Timber Wolf as they boarded a Legion Cruiser and led the five U.P. Space Fleet starships away from the weird glow of the dying suns of Zoon.
Aboard the ship, Brainiac 5 noticed Lesla’s tentative but steady piloting of the craft under Mon-El’s expert guidance. The girl was becoming a fine heroine, and he liked her, but her beauty brought the late Supergirl to his mind, and as he recalled his lost love, he felt the same old sensation that drove him once more to concentrate on his work.
Science lacks a means to stabilize those suns, but I wonder if I could find a useful application for their power, he thought. If that energy could be channeled in such a way as to give life or energy to those in need, then much good could come from this situation!
Lesla laughed as Mon-El corrected her adjustments to the ship, and she gazed up at him with ready affection. Lar is so sweet! thought Lesla. He’s like the big brother I always wanted!
Timber Wolf moved closer to Brainiac 5 and said, “She’s a nice kid. Ayla loves having her around. She’s so excited about the wedding!” He grinned sheepishly and said, “You’re not even trying to listen to me, are you?”
“I’m sorry, Brin,” said Brainiac 5. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I think I have a way of harnessing the power of that tri-stellar system.”
Lar looked up and said, “Brainy, how could you contain that amount of energy? Nothing could hold it. It would blaze right through inertron, even!”
“You made me think of the way I could contain it,” said Brainiac 5. “I’m going to project it into the Phantom Zone!”