by Starsky Hutch 76 and Libbylawrence
The fifth-dimensional land of Zrfff:
“You think you can hold me?” the face of Mr. Mxyzptlk screamed from the jeweled surface of what was once the heart of the phantom zone. Mxyzptlk had been fused with that heart, a being known only as Aethyr, since late last year. (*) “It’s taking all of your magicks just to keep me in this trap that Bizarro freak put me in. I’ll break out eventually! Then I’ll get him and all of you!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter,” DC Comics Presents #97 (September, 1986).]
The trap in question was a giant setting that Bizarro-Kltpzyxm had created for the heart, which made it resemble an enormous pendant. He had mistakenly believed the jeweled face of Mxyzptlk to be a tribute to him for unburying Zrfff from the sewage the imp had dumped on it. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Tales of the Bizarro World: The Last Bizarro, Chapter 1: Kltpzyxm Day.]
“The heart does give you great power,” the magistrate said. “Which is why you shall soon no longer be one with it.” The magistrate raised his hands, and power issued forth, striking the heart.
“Hah!” Mxyzptlk-Aethyr laughed defiantly. “You think you have what it takes to separate us?”
“Alone, perhaps not,” the magistrate said. “But I am far from alone today.”
The jury, the members of the court, the audience, and everyone else joined in. More shortly followed, and the spell grew progressively bigger. Everyone in Zrfff, from the oldest crone to the youngest child, was a part of the effort. Soon, sparks began to rise from the surface of the heart.
“Noooo!” Mxyzptlk-Aethyr screamed as light began to pour forth from behind the jeweled surface. The heart had already sustained slight fractures by an otherworldly explosion a month earlier, but now cracks began to form all over the heart. (*) With a blinding flash, the heart vanished before it could shatter completely, returning from whence it came, and the imp fell to the courtroom floor. Several other, larger figures did as well.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman: The Apokolips Factor, Chapter 4: The Phantom Zone Revisited.]
One of the figures, dressed in a militaristic uniform, stood to his feet and said arrogantly, “Greetings. I am Zod, your new ruler.”
“Hardly,” the magistrate said. “You are not even our problem. Your own kind can decide how to deal with you.” With a flash, Zod and all but one of the other former prisoners of the phantom zone disappeared.
The last one lay writhing in agony on the courtroom floor with the effects of lead poisoning. The same spell had not transported him because he was not Kryptonian like the others, but a Daxamite. The magistrate looked at him sympathetically. A simple spell could have cured his lead poisoning. Instead, the magistrate transported him back to the phantom zone. Not bound by our three-dimensional perspective, he could see that Mon-El’s destiny lay elsewhere.
In the Zor-El home, Lesla-Lar and Lydia-7 eagerly watched a brilliant man at work.
“I have hooked your modified invention, which clouded other people’s identities, to an elementary device that should not only use your design to probe hidden infant memories, but should project them on the screen,” he said.
Lesla smiled at Zor-El and his wife Allura In-Ze. Both were her parents, as far as she remembered or felt as Kara. It would be irony, in a way, to let this scientist be the agent of discovery of her true roots for her.
Lydia stared briefly at Allura. She resembled a mature version of herself or, more accurately, of Kara. She also sat adoringly at Zor-El’s side, her devotion to her ancestor evident.
Lesla wore a mnemonic helmet device that displayed her earliest memories on a monitor. In a flash, the image of a blonde woman with a beautiful face and little clothing was produced.
“This is it — your earliest mental image,” said Zor-El. “I’d say this unknown woman was your mother. We can track her, eh, Don-El?”
“I think so,” said the dark-haired police chief. “My duties are so light due to the low levels of crime that I’d leap at the chance to help.”
It was thus not long after that Don-El led the two young woman to an address after investigating the memory image of a woman who was presumably Lesla-Lar’s mother. “Nura Nov-Ta is her name,” he explained as they arrived. “She lives here and has a reputation for a rather decadent past.”
The door slid open, and a worn robot servant ushered them inside. Nura Nov-Ta looked somewhat older than the memory image, but the features were undeniably the same. They explained what brought them here, and faced with a member of the prominent El family and the two remarkable women, Nura broke down.
“I gave birth to a daughter,” she cried. “I was pressured by the criminal element tied to the mighty House of Lar to do so. I never saw her father after the night of conception. He was lured here by me at the orders of the Lar House. His child — my daughter — was given to the Lars and raised as one of their own. I saw her grow up but never approached. You are that girl!” She glanced tearfully at Lesla. “Your father’s enemies relished the fact that he never knew his own child was raised near him as a hater of all he stood for. He was Nim-El, the weapons-maker.”
Lesla and Lydia exchanged glances. The childhood taunts were based in fact. Lesla-Lar’s real name was Lesla Nim-El. She was the cousin of Kal-El and Kara Zor-El and the half-sister of Don-El himself. He looked utterly shocked as Nura Nov-Ta wept silently.
“You really are an heir to the House of El!” said Lydia.
Lesla nodded. “It’s good to know where I came from after so long. But I need to settle things with my so-called family, the House of Lar!” She turned to face her birth mother. “Nura Nov-Ta, I can rationalize the economic need or the fear of the Lar family that led you to sell me like some marketplace jewel, but I can’t forget the fact that you were willing to cast me aside.”
Lydia turned abruptly and said, “Do you hear something?”
Don-El whirled. “Get out quickly!” He grabbed both women and hurled them out a window. As he did so, a terrible, high-pitched roar shook them and the house itself. The first thing they noticed was that their teeth ached, and then they felt a raw humming ache through all their bones. A moment later, the house shattered like a glass sculpture, and though the heroic Lesla tried to get back inside, the rain of twisted grahu metal was too much for her.
“Nora!” cried Lesla as Lydia held her back.
“She’s dead!” said a badly bruised and cut Don-El. “That blast brought the house down on her. We’re lucky to be alive.”
“That was a vibrator bomb,” said a grim Lesla as the wind blew back her long blonde hair. “I know those weapons from old. Zora Vi-Lar — Black Flame — favored the vibratory type of attack. She obviously never cared for me, nor did her family. I was just a tool to hurt the Els. She must have followed us to Nora and hoped to silence her before the truth could be revealed.”
Lydia said, “We must stop her before she does something even worse!”
Don-El nodded. “I need to summon help — Nightwing.” He rushed off and left the blondes standing over the destroyed home.
“I never knew her,” said Lesla. “She was not a mother in anything but biological fact. Ever since I inhabited this body, I have thought of Allura as my mother. Now I know she is my aunt.”
“We will stop Black Flame,” said Lydia, leading Lesla away from the mess. They hurried directly to the House of Lar.
They entered and faced the patriarch, Imperion Ro-Lar, who wore the blue robe of his court with a blue band across his bald head. He frowned at the sight of the girls. “You betray us by associating with this freakish creature,” he said to Lesla.
“She is more of a real sister to me than your daughters were in truth. I know it all!” she shouted. “You robbed Nim-El of me to get some sick pleasure. You raised me out of malice, not love! You tried to kill us moments ago! Look to your hands! My trained eye sees the vibro scorching yet!”
The portly Imperion said, “What do you–?”
Black Flame appeared. “He did not do it! I did, you foolish little doll,” hissed Zora Vi-Lar. “I hated growing up daily with your lovely face and your brilliant mind both outshining me. My hatred of Supergirl was not just because she was an El. I hated her because she looked like you!”
Lesla kicked her in the chin, and a fight broke out as Lydia wrestled with Ro-Lar. Lesla lacked any powers on the red sun world, but she did know how to fight. She had worked out with grim determination for years and was a mistress of Klurkor, the Kryptonian martial art.
Black Flame dropped a vibro-gun, and Lesla hit her with her left hand. Zora fell and rolled toward the gun, while Lydia shoved the fat Imperion into his scrambling grandchild. They collapsed to the floor, and Lesla smiled.
“I saw no scorch marks,” she explained. “I merely bluffed to get Zora to go wild. It worked, since I knew her hot temper. That headband Lydia is wearing is a mento-recorder. It captured your confession and your attacks upon us.”
Lydia-7 spotted some papers. “By Hattan’s chains! These plans look like forbidden science blueprints from long ago!”
Lesla scanned them and gasped. “They are forbidden! They show how to recreate the disintegrator spheres from the ancient civil war!”
The evil judge smiled. “You may have us now, but the House of Lar shall triumph, for as we speak, Ken-Lar is launching a sphere at the chambers of the Drygur Moliom herself and all her Science Council! When it silently destroys them all, who is left to lead but Kandor’s first family — the House of Lar! Zor-El and his ilk will die!”
Lesla and Lydia bound them and raced to find the weapon. “Can’t stop to find Don-El!” Lesla cried. “I know the height involved to triangulate a hit on the chambers would place such a launcher on Mount Kil-Gor. Let’s go!”
Lydia and Lesla flew upward with the antigravity belts they had grabbed from the Lar lab. They soon saw a red device like a signal projector with white energy surging in its oval screen.
“That’s it! A disintegration projector!” cried Lydia.
Lesla gasped as she saw the industrialist Ken-Lar fire a button that spewed the deadly matter skyward and toward the chambers of the Science Council.
“What can we do?” asked Lydia, powerless under the red sun.
“You stop Ken-Lar, and I’ll do what I must!” she said.
Lydia nodded and ran to face Ken-Lar while Lesla, looking more like the heroic Kara Zor-El than ever, soared to try to save her newfound family.
Zor-El’s brilliant mind reeled at the news that his nephew Don-El brought to him. “Lesla is my niece! That explains her face — so like Kara’s! And Nim has led a life unlike that of Jor and myself. What of this Lar scheme?”
Allura leaned close to her husband. “Lesla is my niece,” she muttered, over and over.
Don-El rushed over to the chamber floor. “We are threatened by civil unrest. The Lar House is powerful, and now they will be fighting for life, since such crimes are surely proven against them all!”
“Van Zee, will you help us?” asked Zor.
“Of course! I’ll summon Ak-Var,” he started.
Then the cries of those outside rang out, and all rushed out to see a white-hot ball of destructive energy hanging almost motionless over them all.
“Great Rao!” cried Allura.
Then Lesla appeared wearing a flight belt like those worn by Nightwing and Flamebird, and she positioned herself between them all and the energy ball. “I was once transformed by phantom zone prisoners into an energy form. (*) If I can draw upon the energy powers latent within me since then, perhaps I can repel the weapon — or die trying! I may may up for all my sins at once.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Forbidden Weapons of Krypton,” Action Comics #297 (February, 1963).]
She soared directly into the ball of energy, and it crackled like a nimbus around her shapely body. Agonized by pain, she screamed as she saw her skin begin to glow light blue in color as she miraculously channeled the power through the unique properties of her body, a hybrid between the energy-being that had once been Lesla-Lar and the cloned body of Kara Zor-El. She ached to release it, but it was not all absorbed. She writhed in pain, but with a final thought of her new family and of Kara, she drew in the white fire and soared skyward to release it all in a white-hot blast that blew a cavernous crater through the rocky facade of Mount Kil-Gor.
The crowd of Kandorians below saw it all. They cheered wildly for Valor, chanting her name with pride. “She saved us all!” said Van-Zee, looking crestfallen about his initial treatment of the girl.
Lesla smiled in redemption and then fell like a rock to land at Zor-El’s feet.
“Her energies are nearly depleted!” cried Zor-El. “Her control is lost. I must help her. She can’t die now. We have so much to learn of one another.” He carried his niece inside.
Hours passed, and Zor-El spent them all working feverishly in his lab. Finally, he called in the others.
“I think I have done it,” he explained. “Lesla’s body is now something of a living energy-generator. I have no fear that she will disperse or ever burn out of control again. I believe she may prove to find the energy powers a true blessing, as may all of us of Rokyn, if she chooses to honor us with her service. Her new uniforms will serve as regulators of her energy. I have made three of them — a purple one like her Valor costume from Earth, a yellow one more like Kandorian garments, and finally — with Allura’s approval — a blue and red one patterned much after Kara’s own costume.”
Lesla woke up and found herself surrounded by loving faces, including the Els. “Mother! Father!” she muttered.
“No, dear. Aunt and Uncle, though,” said Allura, caressing Lesla’s face. “You’re Lesla Nim-El now.”
“You’ve come home at last,” said a proud Zor-El.
“Kara would be proud, too,” said Van Zee.
Lydia smiled appreciatively. “I stopped Ken-Lar, and you saved the rest. Forgive me for my previous doubts. You, too, are a true Supergirl!”
“But not on Earth,” said a beaming Lesla. “Only you will be Supergirl there. I am staying here on Rokyn to get to know my family.”