The Outsiders: The Light Brigade, Chapter 3: Ruler of Light

by Libbylawrence

Return to chapter list

Later, when the Outsiders recovered, they found themselves trapped within a row of glowing spheres.

Black Lightning tried to shatter the gleaming sphere that held him, but he found his efforts to be useless. Doctor Light’s weird science is pretty effective! he thought. I can’t disrupt the light-based energy with my strongest current! He tried to peer through the glowing container and managed to make out the shapes of his partners, all of whom were enclosed in similar traps.

Geo-Force had recovered from the will-o’-the-wisp-like hypnosis the Prismatic Girl had used to make him sluggish and ineffectual, but Prince Brion Markov still could not shatter the light-based trap that held him. He frowned as he saw Negative Woman’s prone body in a nearby sphere. Val’s out cold! I saw Doctor Light inject her with something. I suppose he figured correctly that she could not release her energy self if she was unconscious.

Nearby, Celsius experimented with attempts to heat or cool the air within her own trap, but neither alteration yielded any positive results.

Katana waited with the patience of a warrior. She knew there would be a way out eventually. She had to be ready to take advantage of any opportunity.

Windfall was frightened for Halo. She saw the other girl below them. Halo had been strapped to a table, and various wires and metallic bonds connected the girl to a larger machine.

Doctor Light and his Light Brigade stood around the lab as he looked up at the captive heroes with smug satisfaction written all over his face. “I waited until most of you were awake, because I wanted you to witness my greatest triumph,” he said. “True, you aren’t worthy of the honor, but as a lesser Justice League of sorts, it is fitting that you serve as a preliminary testing ground before I destroy the real heroes who dared thwart my past efforts!”

“What are you doing to Halo?” demanded Geo-Force. “If you’ve harmed her–!”

Doctor Light chuckled and said, “You are the melodramatic one, aren’t you? I suppose it comes from your bucolic childhood! Everything is black or white in your world view! How pathetic you are!”

He gestured toward the costumed members of the Light Brigade. “I took these people and made them into titans! My genius crafted the devices that turned them into more than the ordinary nobodies they once were. With them, I shall achieve all my goals!”

Smiling, he continued, “Halo’s unique powers made her vulnerable to my control. I realized that when I first met your team years ago. (*) That planted a seed in the back of my mind that has germinated to wonderful fruition! I abducted her in order to transfer her powers to myself and boost them in the process!” He grinned and shouted, “No longer will Arthur Light rely solely upon technology!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Light’s Out, Everyone,” The New Teen Titans #37 (December, 1983) and “Psimon Says,” Batman and the Outsiders #5 (December, 1983).]

Halo groaned softly as the villain continued to address her friends. Nearby, Windfall was puzzled about what Light’s ultimate goal would mean for Halo. Gaby might die if he takes her powers! she thought. “She’s like a sister to me! I can’t lose her!” she whispered.

The blonde teen could not shatter the sphere, but she could breathe within it, so she made a logical assumption. Air can pass in and out of these things! she thought. Light must have fixed it that way because he wanted us to live to see him gloat!

Windfall concentrated and began to stir up the air within the lab. Slowly, she focused her own powers over air until she could feel her way around the room as air currents gently wafted along. I don’t know what to do! she thought. Maybe I can free the others if I damage that machine beneath us!

She strained to create a small whirlwind within the machine itself as she sent air flowing into its various openings. Pressure built until the machine shattered into metal fragments, and the heroes fell to freedom. Windfall was too dizzy and weak to do more than cushion their falls before she sank to floor, but she had done enough.

Geo-Force smiled grimly as he led the others into battle. “My worldview may be one of black and white, but yours will soon be black and blue!” he said.

The Outsiders charged into battle even as Doctor Light began to work feverishly over the controls of the machines that held Halo.

As Celeritas raced forward toward Celsius, Geo-Force gestured and increased the pull of gravity on the gold-and-black-clad speedster. Celeritas staggered beneath the pressure and fell before Celsius, who spun around and connected with a kick to his jaw before making contact with his costume with her icy projectiles. “Not so swift now, are you?” she said with a smile as he glanced down helplessly at his ruined costume. The device that enabled him to move so quickly was now nothing but shattered metal.

Black Lightning had generated a blazing arc of electrical power as he stood protectively over Negative Woman and Windfall.

Windfall caused a gentle breeze to sweep over Valentina Vostok as the Russian slowly revived from her drugged condition. “Wake up, Val!” urged Windfall.

Nearby, Katana had approached the glistening Prismatic Girl even as tiny pinpoints of light began to flicker in front of the transparent woman. “You are losing your will to resist!” said the taller woman with a cruel smile.

Katana suddenly lashed out with explosive energy and martial-arts precision. She left the other woman battered at her feet and then opened her own eyes. “Your powers were of little use to you, since I had my eyes shut! Your mocking voice proved to be your undoing!” she declared.

Blackout reached out to rob Geo-Force of his own vision when a bolt from Black Lightning struck her from across the room, and she collapsed to the ground. Geo-Force grinned and waved his thanks to his partner even as he was struck by a battering ram of solid light.

Hardlight moved closer with a menacing manner as a slightly woozy Negative Woman released her energy being and flew directly through the giant. He screamed and then dropped to the ground like a falling tree.

Windfall smiled in delight and caused all the air around the shadowy Chiaroscuro to waft away, leaving the pale woman to gasp in pain before resuming a solid form.

Katana clipped her with a spinning kick and nodded in approval before leaping forward at Doctor Light. She gasped as her body passed directly through him, and she rolled nimbly to her feet on the other side.

Doctor Light laughed and said, “Dolt! All you see is a mere light-based construct! I’m not foolish enough to leave myself open to attack by one as vicious as you!”

As the heroes moved closer to surround him and liberate Halo, an explosion of light rocked them all to the ground.

Doctor Light screeched in triumph. “I’ve done it! The power is mine! I feel it surging through my body!”

Even as Katana’s sword sliced through Halo’s restraints with a precision born of her own remarkable skill, Windfall and Celsius drew the still girl’s body into their arms.

Doctor Light now glowed with a nimbus of coruscating power. He smiled wickedly as orange light irradiated his body on the right side, while his left side glowed a bright yellow.

Geo-Force grunted in pain as orange force beams slammed into him. Celsius and Windfall shielded their eyes as the golden light threatened to blind them. Black Lightning hurled a bolt of electrical energy as Negative Woman’s energy being blasted at the glowing villain.

Doctor Light merely shifted to blue as Black Lightning’s bolts missed his true location due to a distortion effect. He flashed a shade of green as his stasis beam caught the hero and left him immobile.

Katana frowned in concern as she said, “He can use more than one aura at once! Halo never could do that! He has gained a greater level of power than she ever had!”

“Boss, can you fix us up?” asked Celeritas. “We can take these creeps if you restore our powers!”

Doctor Light nodded and said, “Perhaps you could at that, but I have what I wanted, and I no longer need any of you! I have been betrayed by disloyal minions before, and those days are at an end!”

Hardlight, Chiaroscuro, Blackout, Prismatic Girl, and Celeritas were recovering from their own defeat, but they were still alert enough to realize the meaning of their master’s words.

Doctor Light chuckled as sparks erupted from their separate costumes, and a blank gaze settled on their faces. “Hank Rogers, Carrie Carrintino, Bertha Kennedy, Lana Monroe, Davy Johnstone — you no longer need the powers I granted you,” he said. “For that matter, thanks to a triggering of the post-hypnotic suggestions I had Prismatic Girl plant in your minds, you’ll no longer remember your brief but glorious time in my service!”

As the now-powerless and confused Light Brigade milled around in confusion, Doctor Light glowed red as heat beams lanced out to melt bracings that held a row of machines in place. The huge devices crashed down at the Outsiders as they scattered and attempted to get the former Light Brigade to safety as well.

Geo-Force dived into the machines and held them back as Celsius slowed their descent with a barrier of ice. Katana pushed Blackout and the now-normal-looking Prismatic Girl aside as metallic fragments crashed down around them. “Get out!” cried Katana. “This is no place for the helpless!”

Indeed, Windfall had created a whirlwind to protect Halo and herself from the chaos. “Halo? Wake up! You’ve got to be OK! You’ve just got to!” she pleaded.

Black Lightning managed to shake off immobility as Negative Woman forced Doctor Light to change his focus by aiming her own blasts in his area.

“This is really too easy!” said Doctor Light. “I almost wish I had taken down the Justice League before toying with you rejects!” His expression changed abruptly as light filled the room, and seven glowing balls of light materialized.

Black Lightning whistled softly as he recognized the strange newcomers. Aurakles! he thought. Light’s attracted Halo’s other-dimensional family by boosting her powers for himself!

Katana gasped as she saw the odd beings who once threatened to reclaim Halo to preserve their unity.

“The One will return with us! We will restore the proper alignment! The Unity will be complete!” The words or thoughts echoed through the room as the vastly powerful light beings descended.

As if in response to some forgotten connection, Halo opened her eyes and whispered, “Aurakles! Not again!”

As her friends gathered around her, Halo realized a startling fact. “They’re ignoring us! It is Doctor Light they want!” she said.

Doctor Light stared at the looming light beings and began to move toward them. “Your power will be mine!” he cried. “I will claim a whole dimension full of power for myself!”

Black Lightning hesitated, then shouted, “Light! Get away from them! You can’t stop them!”

Doctor Light sneered with contempt. “You idiot! I will rule this world once I have these odd beings under my thrall! Do not presume to trick one who has proven himself to be your superior!”

Doctor Light flared with stolen power and was swallowed up by the swarming Aurakles.

Black Lightning turned toward Negative Woman and said, “Val, you may be our best hope! I think your energy being could disrupt them all!”

Negative Woman nodded and prepared to attack, but she was seconds too late. The Aurakles had vanished and had taken Doctor Light with them.

Halo sat up and said, “They are gone for good! I can’t feel any link to them!”

“Are you hurt?” asked Katana. “Do you have your powers?”

Halo nodded and flew into the air. “I’m OK!” she said. “I’m not more powerful or anything, but I’m OK! Thanks for saving me!”

As she and Windfall hugged, Halo looked sadly skyward. “I feel sorry for Doctor Light,” she said. “Just before they took him, I saw his eyes widen! He understood that he was a prisoner and not a ruler!”

Black Lightning nodded and said, “I tried to warn him. He was too far gone to listen.”

“Such is the siren-like allure of power,” said Celsius. “It deafens one to the sound of reason.”

“We have no need to pursue them, even if we still had a way to do so,” said Katana. “Let Doctor Light learn his lesson the hard way.”

“The Light Brigade fled,” said Geo-Force. “We should be able to locate them. They are powerless now.”

Negative Woman nodded and said, “They no longer retain memory of our identities as well, if Holo’s experience may be relied upon as a basis for the rest.”


Weeks later, a relaxed Jeff Pierce, Brion Markov, Tatsu Yamashiro, and Arani Caulder sat in the gym behind Rutherford B. Hayes High School as the marching band, including Gaby Doe, took to the court while the Hayes Scarlet Hurricanes Her-I-Canes Cheer Squad performed.

Arani smiled broadly as she pointed toward Wendy Doe, who was eagerly performing with the other girls. “Wendy loves being a cheerleader!” she said.

Tatsu nodded and said, “I am happy she made the squad. She and Gaby need as much normalcy in their young lives as possible.”

Jeff grinned and said, “Yes. I’m sorry Val wouldn’t come. We could have worked something up for her. Perhaps a modification of the masks Rex uses could work for her too?”

Arani shook her head. “She must find her own comfort zone. We can’t rush her. For now, we must just enjoy the happy moments while they last. I learned as much from my poor, late Niles.”

As cheers and blaring band instruments filled the gym, the heroes tried to do just that.

The End

Return to chapter list