Supergirl had begun to shut down the equipment, when a powerful figure slammed into her from the rear. She fell hard and glanced up to see a hulking brute. He was clearly a robot of some alien design. His fists struck her down again as he loomed over her menacingly.
She blasted his metallic form with icy breath and kicked him to shatter his now-frigid chest. She reached inside the automaton and ripped his wiring apart. He fell inert once more. She nodded resolutely, knowing what to do now.
“In studying Kara’s cases I learned about this creature,” she said to herself. “He was a robotic guard from an alien world she once visited, and he was destroyed completely. He could not have learned about our Fortress through conventional means, even if someone had restored him. His world was not even in sync with our universe under normal conditions. Someone brought him here specifically to fight me. That same person plucked Gyronaut and Vortex from their proper timeframes, too. They continued to experience life as they had known it from the past when they fought my ancestor. That is why they treated me and saw me as if I was Kara. I’ll seek the answers I need from within the time stream itself.”
She vibrated at super-speed and felt her world alter as she entered the strange-yet-marvelous field of experience known as the time-stream. She could journey from this vantage point to either the distant past or the far-flung future. If her ancestor’s old foes were being drawn from their proper era, then she could surely detect what the motive was behind such actions.
Someone clearly wants something from me, she mused. I can’t imagine he wants my death, or he would have selected some of Kara’s more potent foes like Lesla-Lar before she reformed or Mongul. It’s clear that my answers await me here or nowhere else.
She gasped as a ghostly form materialized in front of her. He wore a chalk-white mask and a garish green and yellow costume with a flowing cape and various clock motifs. She knew him from Kal’s files. He was rather infamous as Chronos, the time thief.
“Chronos, why have you sent those beings to battle me?” she demanded. “We’ve never met before!”
“You have something I want,” he said.
Supergirl frowned. “What could I offer you?”
Chronos sneered coldly and said, “Why, merely your body itself.”
Supergirl grew angry. “Explain yourself. We’ve never met!”
“Or have we?” he said, laughing. “Perhaps in the wonderful vagaries of time itself, we will soon become hated foes! I may be the Chronos of three years from now. Why, perhaps we will become lovers. Time holds out such infinite possibilities. Still, I jest. I have been trapped within the time-stream since an unfortunate encounter with the Atom and Batman. (*) I can neither exit this access-way to past or present or future.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Atom: The Ivy Town Project.]
“However, I have been able to watch the events of the past and present, and I learned that you, my dear, come from the far future. You contain within that fabulous form of yours enough residual chronal energy to enable me to free myself from this limbo. All I could do was manifest time-wraiths — briefly solid images of beings from the past — that I could bring forth to your era and with whom I could bedevil you. They never realized they had left their pasts. They saw all as it had been before when they fought Supergirl, mark one.”
“You did all this to draw me here and tap my chronal energies?” asked Supergirl.
Chronos nodded. “Exactly. That is what I’ve just done. I have drained all the chronal energy that lingered within you from your journey to our era. It shall allow me, in turn, to escape this nightmare realm and enter the future era you came from in all the glories it offers. Think of the weapons and marvels that await me there! I know I have!”
“Stop! You don’t understand,” she cried. “Since you could only watch my arrival in your era, there are things you don’t know!”
He vanished, leaving his mocking laugh behind as Supergirl shook her head sadly. “Poor, deluded man. By returning to my scarred era, all he will find is destruction and desolation. He will be alone and lost in the chaos left by the Crisis,” she said as she returned home.
She entered her apartment and began to change into her Lydia clothing, only to see Lena Thorul Colby sitting on her couch. “Lena? What is the meaning of this?” she demanded as she tried to close her blouse to cover her revealed costume.
Lena held up a brunette wig. “I wore this, and by staying in the shadows, I fooled your landlord into letting me inside. I told him I had lost my keys. He believed me to be you. I knew I could pass for you, since I’ve done so before. That is, I have posed as the original Supergirl, and I know you are her successor.”
Lydia shook her head in denial. “You are wrong. I can explain.”
Lena shook her own head sadly. “I wish I could explain. I know I cannot justify this.” She placed both hands on her temples and concentrated. Powerful thoughts and feelings surged through Lydia and rocked her to her knees. The intensity of pain, loss, and fear tore through her like an electrical shock, and she staggered beneath the beautiful blonde’s assault.
“Why?” Lydia gasped as she fought to resist the mental attack.
“I need to force you to serve me,” explained Lena. “If you don’t do as I command, then I’ll lose all I hold dear! I’ve already lost my self-respect!”
Lydia struggled to her feet. Her resolve was powerful, and she could endure much pain of either physical or mental nature. “Your thoughts do more than hurt me. They reveal all to me. I see why you need my aid. You do not need to enslave me. I will help you gladly. I see your son is behind all your pain. You feel for his safety and would risk all to protect him.”
Lena stopped projected her telepathic power and said, “You mean it? You’ll help me even after I tried to threaten and control you? I knew my friend Linda would have aided me, but I feared you would refuse. You are so different from her.”
“We differ in many things, but not in essentials,” said Lydia. “I will help you save your son. Who is it that threatens him?”
Lena began to sob gently. “That’s just it. Val is the threat I’m speaking about. He’s gone mad. His mental powers have turned him into a monster!”
Later, Lena Thorul Colby entered her apartment and faced her son. He was a handsome boy with the blonde good looks of his mother. He sat oddly still and stared at her with unfeeling eyes. What had once been a comfortable home was now a laboratory full of weird equipment. His thoughts lashed out at her even as his body remained inert.
“Woman, you return so soon? Did my power not teach you to fear me? Must I stop my work to flail the very brain from your head?”
Lena wept copious tears and pleaded with the child. “Val, this is not like you. Fight him!”
Val laughed, and again the sound came not from his still lips but from thin air. “Val’s will is mine, and — thanks to his potent mental powers — soon I shall be restored,” thundered the strange voice as it echoed in her mind.
Lena drew closer and suddenly became a blur as she vanished with Val’s red cape-encircled form. “You are not Lena Colby!” echoed that voice as it faded away as Supergirl streaked across the globe carrying Val Colby.
“Supergirl?” asked the curious boy as he regained his free will. “Mom said you were dead! Where is she?”
“I’m not the Supergirl you met before, but I am your friend just as she was. Val, I’m going to take you to your mother now. She is waiting for you.”
Supergirl gently landed and watched the little boy rush into his mother’s eager arms. The tropical warmth of the small island failed to equal the loving warmth of his joyful mother. Supergirl said, “I’ll take you back home after I deal with Val’s controller.”
She smiled as she recalled how her acting skills, Lena’s clothes, and a long blonde wig had enabled her to fool Val’s unseen master into allowing her to approach the boy’s enslaved form and fly him out of range of his puppet-master. He never tried to scan my mind, she thought. He just assumed the woman he saw was the same one he had given amnesia and sent out into the streets days before. That was his first mistake.
Supergirl swooped back into the Colby home and watched as the assembled equipment glowed brightly. A disembodied face appeared in front of her.
“Supergirl! I have you to thank for robbing me of my new host,” said the mocking face before her. He had a pointed black beard, and his mental projection wore an odd cone helmet. “That child’s mental potential is amazing. I was able to reach out and touch his mind and control it long enough to have him build my cerebral-transmitter from parts I had forced him to steal over the last few days. It’s almost funny how effective a robber can be when he can cloud men’s minds and make off with their property. There were no witnesses due to the amnesia I had him instill in each staffer at the labs I hit through him. I even had him order them to damage any security devices that might have recorded our visits.”
“Brain Storm, isn’t it?” said Supergirl. “I saw your file as well. I can imagine that your brain-amplification helmet allowed your disembodied mind to contact young Val and enslave him, but what makes you think I will stop you from reclaiming your body? Now that Val is free, I’ll finish what he started.”
She activated the machinery after making a few super-fast adjustments. Energy filled the room, and his image altered. He staggered forward as a solid man once more. She tapped him on the chin and knocked him cold. She scooped up his cone-shaped helmet and smiled.
“I had no need to leave you trapped in the bodiless limbo you’d created for yourself by accident while trying to boost your powers. In fact, by restoring you to a physical form, I made it all the easier to knock you out before you could adjust to your return to normal and use your helmet against me. Now I’ll leave you in prison far away from this helmet, where you’ll never bother Val or Lena again.” Supergirl smiled at herself.
That night, Lydia sat with Lena Colby in Lena’s restored apartment while Val slept in his room nearby. “Thank you for inviting me here,” she said as she balanced a teacup on one knee. “I have not made many friends in this era. I am glad you and Val are safe.”
Lena touched her arm and said, “I’m so thankful you were able to free Val from that monster. You say this Brain Storm fought the first Supergirl before, too?”
Lydia nodded. “Yes, he did, and she defeated him. (*) Then, sometime after the Crisis, he tried to boost his mental powers, and the resulting accident left him trapped as pure mental energy. He could do nothing except reach out to Val’s powerful mind. He was able to enslave him and force him to create the machine designed to restore him. I imagine he feared trying to control other powerful minds, such as Captain Comet’s, because he would have failed to control him.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Supergirl: Times Past, 1983: Emotional Rescue.]
Lena nodded. “He almost robbed me of my own identity. He could not control me, but he left me dazed with amnesia. Eventually, my memory returned, along with certain forgotten memories about Linda’s I.D. That led me to realize that you had to be the new Supergirl.”
“That explains why you missed work so many days and showed up wearing the clothes you’d last worn days before,” said Lydia.
Lena shuddered. “I’d hate to imagine the gossip.”
Lydia took her hand. “At least now you have a friend at work. So do I?”
Lena hugged her. “Definitely. Linda was close to me, and I feel like you will be, too.”