Margo Hatton looked down at the Hamilton Corporation’s Golden Gala Ball. She saw her ex-boyfriend Raymond Richards, and a cold sneer crossed her lovely face. He had been seeing her secretly for several months now, but he had recently told her that he could no longer continue their affair. He was reconciling with his wife and being honored as the Civic League’s Father of the Year.
“I’ll show them what kind of man he really is beneath that Ward Cleaver exterior!” she said as she rushed down the steps and interrupted the awards dinner. As all eyes turned to the striking brunette as she slipped off her long coat to reveal a lacy black dress.
“What’s wrong, Ray, darling?” she said as she posed before shocked guests and flashbulb-clicking photographers. “You always loved me in this little number before.”
“And cut!” yelled the director as Secret Hearts wrapped up another scene in its busy taping schedule.
Margo grabbed her coat and returned to her dressing room, where she assumed her normal demeanor as young soap actress Lydia Lee. She was more talented than even her show’s director or writers knew her to be. In reality, she wasn’t the ordinary young woman they believed her to be. She was a super-powered woman from the far future who doubled as Lydia the actress and as Supergirl II — the heir apparent to the world’s greatest heroine, the late Supergirl. It was difficult for Lydia-7 to juggle all her roles at times. The difficulty was increased by the fact that this era was so very primitive in comparison to her own.
Still, I have so many choices here, thought Lydia. Acting would never have been a career option in my era. The food-processing plant would have been the widest stage upon which I could ever have expressed myself in any manner. This era gives me freedom beyond anything I ever knew. And my powers are even greater due to the sun of this era. The orange-hued one from my true time had limited my abilities then.
She frowned as those same abilities detected shouts from outside the studio. Her super-hearing allowed her to separate cries of distress from typical urban noises. She scanned the streets with her x-ray vision and saw a man in a green jumpsuit hovering above a fleeing crowd. He was riding a strange metal craft that resembled a flying circle with a raised pair of handlebars.
Lydia made a super-fast change to Supergirl and, as she heard footsteps approaching her dressing room, groaned loudly to create an improvised cover story for her disappearance.
“Miss Lee!” called one of the studio pages. “You’re needed on the set.”
Lydia hastily locked the door and shouted in her most temperamental tone, “I have a headache! You’ll have to wait!“
She vibrated through the wall and exited the studio unseen to deal with the chaos in the streets. She hated to be building an image as a difficult actress, but that ruse always bought her the much-needed time to help people as Supergirl. Thus, Lydia Lee’s popularity on the set suffered while she alleviated the suffering of others.
The page sighed as he headed back to the main set. “Man! With all the rewrites delayed by Miss Colby’s sick days, filming is behind schedule as it is.”
The Maid of Steel swooped down to block the path of the man on the hovercraft. She said, “This rampage must cease! You will surrender immediately.”
He laughed and said, “I warned you, Supergirl, that my business is better left to me. You won’t survive interfering a second time! I’ll make you regret the day you first decided to wear that cape and hot pants outfit and meddle where you aren’t wanted!”
He pressed the handlebars, and an energy beam began to spread out from the craft in concentric circles of pure force. The energy was strong enough to shatter the cars in its path, and Supergirl was forced to block the exploding vehicles with her invulnerable body.
I cannot allow him to harm those below, she thought. I must place their welfare before his punishment. Still, with a judicious application of super-powers, I may be able to achieve both aims.
She continued to block the rain of twisted metal from those below, but she bounced the rumble off her body toward the man and his craft. She had noticed correctly that his circle of force did not extend above his craft. Thus, as the deflected metal dropped down from above, he gasped and fell stunned. She caught the falling craft and bent her knees to gently ease it to the ground. She smiled with satisfaction as she noticed that no one was hurt.
A pretty blonde woman watched from the studio windows nearby. She looked very much like Supergirl herself, except that her blonde hair was much longer, and her features were slightly gentler. Her name was Lena Colby, and she worked as a writer on the soap opera Secret Hearts. She shared much more with the Maid of Steel than a superficial resemblance. She also knew her secret while having secrets all her own.
She wore a dirty white ruffled blouse and black skirt with heels. She nodded resolutely and sighed as if suddenly resigned to some dire fate. Lena whispered to herself as she returned to her office, “I’m sorry, Linda, but I have no choice but to do this. You’d understand, and I hope Lydia will, too, in time.”
Meanwhile, as Supergirl bent over her fallen foe to make certain he was not seriously harmed, a strange thing occurred. He vanished before her startled blue eyes. His odd craft also flickered out of sight, but the rubble from their battle remained around her.
Strange! He was stunned, yet he escaped from me. I wonder if that was some failsafe he designed in the event of capture? mused Supergirl. I detect no energy pattern to suggest traditional teleportation.
A husky man with a beard came over to her and placed one hand on her back. “Supergirl, you’re amazing!” he said. “I wondered if I might have an autograph. It’s for my wife.”
“You desire my signature?” asked Supergirl. “Certainly. What is your wife’s name?”
He smiled sheepishly and said, “Uh, Jake? I guess I should admit it’s for me. Heh-heh-heh.”
Supergirl smiled and used her fingernail to sketch a rough signature in a piece of metal from the fight. Jake thanked her and started to turn away, when a thought occurred to the fan. “Say, any chance you might start wearing that swinging outfit with the hot pants and slippers like your predecessor?”
Supergirl ignored him and flew off to make a super-swift change to Lydia Lee. She was rather pleased that the man had been such an admirer. She had already begun to experience the benefits of celebrity in her Lydia Lee role, but people were only now beginning to accept her as the new Supergirl. It was not the man’s admiration that weighed upon her mind, though; it was his words that concerned her.
That fan spoke of the original Supergirl’s old costume, she thought. Now that I take the time to ponder my foe’s words, I realize that he actually spoke to me as if I was wearing her costume. That criminal was one of her old foes, and yet to him I looked no different from her.
She pulled her brunette wig on and smoothed the curls as she headed out to finish the day’s filming. She performed flawlessly, even though her thoughts continued to return to the mystery of the man on the platform. She also felt as if she was being watched with unusual intensity by one of the Secret Hearts writers.
Lena Colby is staring at me so deliberately, she thought. Is she merely concerned that I will interpret her lines in the wrong way, or is it something more? She and I have not spoken very often, since she is merely an assistant writer, and my dealings are usually with her superiors. Perhaps I have offended her in some manner.
That night, Lydia sat in her apartment and stroked the little cat that played with a ball of yarn on her bed. I am very glad Kal-El brought this animal to me. Caring for it gives me companionship of a kind I never knew in my era. All animal life was regulated behind government containment. This cat belonged to my predecessor, and Kal brought him from her Chicago apartment after the Crisis. I feel as if Streaky II is a fitting friend to me as I adjust to this still-strange life.
She scanned a few files on a computer and frowned in concern. “This link to the Fortress computers is necessarily limited in scope, yet it did identify my foe from this morning. His name is Vortex, and he did indeed battle the first Supergirl. His real name was Porgus, and according to Kara Zor-El’s records, he died in that conflict through no fault of her own. (*) Bizarre. Was I in fact dueling a phantom?“
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Vortex,” Adventure Comics #414 (January, 1972).]
Although she did not realize it, an unseen figure watched her and laughed in anticipation. Soon she’ll be just where I need her to be, and then freedom will be mine again, he thought from a place both near and far away.
Meanwhile, Lena Colby paced the now-empty studio floors and wept. She was, in fact, a brave and strong woman who had worked in several jobs. She had been a librarian, a secretary, and an FBI employee. She had been both wife and mother and now was a widow. She still missed and mourned the loss of her late spouse. Jeff Colby had been heroic and caring, and his death had come far too soon. Still, she had carried on with life and had embraced her hidden talent as a writer.
She enjoyed helping Herb and Mitzi Silver determine the fates of the many characters from the popular soap opera. It allowed her to support her son Val in comfort. She also liked living in New York City, having lived in numerous places throughout her life. She had first met the original Supergirl years before when she had moved to the suburb of Metropolis called Midvale. They had become friends, and she had eventually learned that Linda Danvers was also Supergirl. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Girl With the X-Ray Mind,” Action Comics #295 (December, 1962).]
Lena had kept this secret until an accident robbed her of the memory as well as of the psychic powers that had plunged her into numerous adventures. (*) However, fate had been whimsical, and the accident ultimately led to the exchanging of one piece of knowledge for another. She had learned that her maiden name was not truly Thorul, which was merely an anagram of the name Luthor, a surname now associated with infamy. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor,” Superman Family #214 (January, 1982).]
“Little did I realize that my brother was Lex Luthor. Still, in spite of all his acts of malice and evil, he remained caring toward me. I’ve enjoyed our sporadic contact since I learned my true identity. My folks changed our name to Thorul in order to protect me from Lex’s notoriety. I wish I could reach him now. He could help me, if anyone could!” she sobbed.
She handled a photo of a cute boy on her office desk and pressed it to her chest. “Val, I’ll do whatever it takes to save you! I’ve stalled long enough.”
That grim resolution would require the young mother to take actions that would place both her morals and Supergirl in peril.
That night, as Lydia Lee read through the next day’s script, her mind wandered. Lydia had no trouble learning her lines, since her super-memory allowed her to instantly retain anything she read. She used the time this skill saved her to prepare in other ways. She tried to convey the feelings she wanted to project in order to make her performance realistic and effective. At times this required effort, since so much of what Margo experienced and felt was beyond Lydia-7’s futuristic and socialistic background.
She laughed softly at the irony. “My background — my past — has not even occurred yet, since I came from the far future to this era. Such ironies amuse me still.”
Putting down the script, she decided to take a quick patrol around the city. She could not calm a feeling of restlessness that troubled her in spite of her super-mind. She slipped on her costume and moved toward the window when, once again, shouts caught her attention.
Supergirl flew toward the sounds and saw a man wearing a metal harness and carrying bags from the Tiffany’s store nearby. Those below him pointed upward in surprise, since his weird harness enabled him to soar above them. The Tiffany’s clerk cried out as she saw Supergirl appear. “Supergirl, stop him! He robbed us!” she shrieked.
The heroine moved to intercept the man who sneered at her in contempt. “You really should stay home, doll. You can’t catch the Gyronaut. I’ve escaped from you before. Go home and wash your hair or something.”
She noticed that his harness propelled him like the rotors of a helicopter lifted such a vehicle, but she had little doubt that she could catch him. No helicopter could match her super-speed. She said nothing but slapped both hands together. The sheer sonic impact shattered his harness, and he gasped as gravity pulled him downward. She caught him easily and smiled. “You overestimated your prowess. You’ll have plenty of time to regret that once you are behind the bars of a place of incarceration.”
The Gyronaut shrugged. “I don’t get it. You were so distracted before that I figured I could easily get away. Well, you sure got your act together.”
Supergirl gasped as he vanished from sight. She found herself holding no villain any longer but merely empty air. “Great Krypton, as Kal would say! This is baffling. Yet another rogue from Kara’s past who seemed to think that I was my ancestor. He also has escaped into merest vapor.”
That night, Lydia sat in the Supergirl wing of the Fortress of Solitude and read the case files of the original Supergirl. The pretty blonde sighed as consternation overcame her determination. She crossed her legs and stared at the screens.
“The villains I fought both battled Kara. One was presumed dead, and the other is still in prison. How could I fight them in such circumstances? Why did they both view me as their original foe? The Gyronaut even assumed I, too, would be plagued by personal problems that had once hindered Kara’s efforts to subdue him when they fought.”