There was a certain irony in the fact that a man who had earned the title of Time Master now found himself wishing he had not wasted much of his own time. As Rip Hunter, a ruggedly handsome blond man of an indeterminate age, sat brooding in the slightly rundown farmhouse that served as both his family home and his scientific base, he glanced up at a row of clocks and laughed bitterly.
He stood up and began to pace restlessly back and forth before stopping in mid-stride and turning toward a telephone. Rip started to pick up the receiver and then changed his mind.
Looking down at a newspaper’s society page that rested on a table near the phone, he suddenly swept both paper and phone into the floor with a violent sweep of his hand. “What’s the use?” he said softly. “I’m too late. I’ve waited too long, and I’ve finally run out of time.”
Rip looked over to his mantle where another clock loomed above a small card that stood up slightly upon its own fold. A framed photo that depicted Rip and three others all wearing matching green and red uniforms was next to the card, while a second photo of a young man in a graduation cap and gown rested near the edge. “Corky’s college graduation. That was a proud day, unlike this one.”
He walked over and fingered the invitation before crumpling it up in his fist and tossing it idly across the room. Shivering slightly, he realized that his fire had gone out. He had been lost in his own thoughts for so long that he had failed to notice the change.
Rip pulled on a leather jacket and headed outside to a large shed-like structure that adjoined his home. He saw a small pile of firewood that had been stacked neatly by the shed, and he leaned over to pick some of the wood when he heard a disturbance from within the building. He frowned and hurried inside after deftly entering a special security keypad by the door.
A gasp escaped from Rip’s mouth as he saw that while the largest object inside the structure — a massive, spherical machine — was still securely in place, a shadowy figure was standing near one side of the formerly locked room.
The old man stepped closer as he spotted Rip and then staggered forward wildly with a look of fright on his wrinkled features. He was gaunt, but something more than age or fatigue dogged his steps. He stared at Rip and collapsed into his arms in a movement that might have been comical in a different situation and with a younger person.
Rip caught the old man and gently moved him over to a battered wooden desk chair. “Take it easy. You’re OK now. No one will harm you,” he said as he checked the man’s pulse and then looked across the room for a first-aid kit. He’s in bad shape, he thought. His heart is beating like crazy.
The old man looked up at Rip and gasped for air as he held his chest. “The strain was too much! My heart couldn’t take it.” He pleaded, “Got to help me! Rip, you’re the only one who can help!”
Something about the old man’s voice was familiar to Rip. “Let me get some medical help,” he replied. “I can call. Just rest.”
He started to turn when the old man’s feeble hands closed around Rip’s wrist with surprising strength.
Rip recognized the ring on the man’s hand, and he stared at him for a moment as a realization made the situation seem even stranger. “Corky?” he gasped. “You’re Corky Baxter!”