Super-Stars of Space: The Universe and Mr. Leiber, Chapter 3: Cosmic Power

by Libbylawrence

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Back on Earth, Stacy Macklin walked up several flights of stairs until she reached one particular Metropolis apartment. Her high heels clattered with every step, as she was now dressed in a red blazer and matching skirt and shoes. It was the day after she’d become Lady Lunar once again.

The phone book listed Andrew Meda as living at this address, she thought. Maybe, if I do a little snooping around, I can learn more about him and how his transformation might be linked to my suddenly regaining super-powers.

Taking a moment to glance left and right, she deftly phased directly through the door into the apartment. Becoming intangible like this might be the best power a girl could wish for, she thought.

She quickly searched the small apartment before returning to one room where a large cabinet dominated one wall. “Meda seems like a perfectly normal man, except for the fact that I can’t find any kind of documentation or photos that would indicate he was alive before 1981,” she said, thinking aloud. “His identity seems to literally date from that point forward, though he went missing for five years from 1982 until 1987. That’s a pretty big gap in his resume! If he is an alien posing as a human, then that would actually make sense. I mean, he could have arrived here on the planet seven years ago and have created the Andrew Meda identity at that time.”

Whistling softly as she heard what she’d just said, she continued, “Wait a minute! Am I having a blonde moment, or what? Andrew Meda? Andromeda! His name is a clue to where he came from, and it took me this long to catch on to it!”

Exerting a bit of her enhanced strength, Stacy pried open the huge cabinet to reveal a sophisticated machine beyond anything known to terrestrial science. “What is that thing? It doesn’t look like a communications device, nor does it appear to be a weapon.” Moving closer to it, she peered up at its rows of dials and controls.

As the blonde studied the machine, she failed to notice that a newcomer had slipped into the apartment through a window in another room.

Suddenly, a burst of bright violet energy slammed into her from behind, sending her crashing to the floor.

With a groan, Stacy rolled over on one side to gaze up at a powerful-looking woman who now stood over her with an aggressive stance. The other woman was beautiful, with black hair and a flawless figure. She wore a pink mask that rose up into a tiara that rested on her thick black hair, and in that tiara was embedded a glowing gemstone. She wore a brief costume of magenta and white, with long gloves and high-heeled boots. Stacy thought she had seen the woman before in an old newspaper, but for the moment she was more concerned with staying alive than with identifying her attacker.

She gasped as a second beam of violet energy left the tiara to strike her as she lay on the floor.

“I don’t have to kill you,” said the woman. “Just give me what I want, and I will allow you to live!”

Stacy phased through the floor and flew a few inches to the right before she phased back into Meda’s apartment and knocked the other woman to the ground. With a tackle, Stacy began to pummel her foe, who fell beneath her furious attack.

“You’ll allow me to live? Don’t do me any favors, honey!” said Stacy as she brought both fists down on her face.

The black-haired woman kicked desperately, and managed to shove Stacy aside long enough to concentrate and emit a barrage of energy from her tiara. “You show more warrior spirit than I would have believed possible!” cried the woman.

“I’ll take that as high praise coming from a psycho escapee from the Miss Universe Pageant!” said Stacy. “But I’m about to decrown you!” She fired an energy beam directly at the other woman’s tiara, but to her consternation, her beam was absorbed by the gemstone.

“Give me your moonstone!” demanded the woman. “You cannot best me! I am the Star Sapphire, the chosen warrior queen of the Zamarons!”

Stacy frowned as a violet beam lanced out of the tiara and met her own power beam in midair. “Star Sapphire?” she said. “I’ve heard of you! Green Lantern used to spank you on a regular basis, didn’t he?”

The violet aura that surrounded the Sapphire grew brighter and wider as she drew closer to Stacy. “I’ve never battled the Green Lantern,” she said, “though I once duped him into serving my cause. (*) You’ve confused me with my weaker predecessor, a stupid Earthling whose gem I took after winning a trial by combat!” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “War for Earthdeath,” Secret Society of Super-Villains #3 (October, 1976) and Secret Society of Super-Villains: Reclamation, Book 3: A Clash of Queens.]

Suddenly, the violet beam split in half, and as one part continued to surge against Stacy’s projected beam, another half diverted its path and circled around to bounce off Stacy’s own green energy-field.

“Fancy trick! Too bad you can’t break through my field!” said Stacy.

“If you just give me your moonstone, I will depart!” said Star Sapphire.

“Moonstone?” said Stacy. “I don’t have a moonstone!”

Star Sapphire circled warily around the rather confined space as she watched Stacy’s every move. “My gemstone absorbs and projects energy of a type not entirely dissimilar to the power you possess,” she said. “I am trying to increase my own power, and acquiring your gemstone will enable me to do so!”

Stacy leaped up as the Sapphire abruptly swung one leg across in an effort to trip her. “Star Sapphire, I’m telling you that I don’t have a moonstone!” she said. “Isn’t this costume skimpy enough for you to see that?”

Star Sapphire paused as she considered Stacy’s words. Perhaps the Earth woman truly didn’t have a gemstone after all. Perhaps her powers came from a different source.

Before either woman could resume their duel, the door swung open to reveal a startled Andrew Meda. “By the nebulae!” he cried as he slammed the door, beginning to transform from human into his true form of a white-skinned, red-haired alien.

Star Sapphire cursed as she saw him approach. “I have no time for these games! I’ve wasted far too long on this forsaken planet as it is!” She hovered in the air for a moment, only to cry out as her body contorted in a series of convulsions, and she fell helplessly to the floor.

Stacy turned to face Karb-Brak as he drew closer to them. “What happened to her?” she said.

“She is unhurt for the moment,” said Karb-Brak. “I merely stunned her via mental activation of my Psi-Machine!” He gestured toward the huge machine that had first caught Stacy’s eye when she began to search the place.

“Let me add that I owe you my thanks,” he continued. “I am susceptible to bouts of fever and madness that are triggered by proximity to superhuman energies. In the past I battled Superman, because his very presence threatened my survival. You see, I’m an exile from my home planet, Overworld, because every being on my world has super-powers. My condition was such that I had to leave my home and my people in order to avoid dying from the fever caused by contact with their energies. I thought I would be safe here, but as I said, Superman was powerful enough to induce the madness within me. He and I battled several times before he managed to temporarily cure me. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Superman, You’ll Be the Death of Me Yet,” Action Comics #460 (June, 1976), “Kill Me or Leave Me,” Action Comics #461 (July, 1976), “Super-War of Independence,” Action Comics #462 (August, 1976), and “Die Now, Live Later,” Action Comics #463 (September, 1976).]

“After arriving on this world, I lived under the guise of Andrew Meda in peace, and I would have remained here if another super-powered man named Vartox hadn’t given me the opportunity to return to Overworld in the Andromeda Galaxy with the promise that I was finally cured of the allergic reactions I had toward my people. (*) Unfortunately, that diagnosis was premature, as my body immediately began to react negatively upon stepping foot on the Overworld once more. Thus Vartox offered me a new home on his adopted world, Tynola II.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Super-Hero Who Refused to Hang Up His Boots,” Action Comics #475 (September, 1977) and “The Attack of the Anti-Super-Hero,” Action Comics #476 (October, 1977).]

“There I remained for years until the being known as Starbreaker destroyed that world and promised to destroy my own homeworld as well. Instead, thanks to Superman and the Justice League of America, Starbreaker was captured, and the Overworld was saved. Yet Starbreaker had already permanently absorbed the super-powers of everyone on my planet, with the happy result that I was finally able to return home for good. As the only super-powered man on Overworld, I no longer had anything to fear.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: To Conquer the Stars.]

“And yet, the fact that you’re here means that something must have happened,” prompted Stacy.

“Indeed,” said Karb-Brak. “A race known as the Dominators arrived, seeking to study my people and discover the secret of their former super-powers now that they were helpless to resist. I was off-planet when the Dominators finally dropped what they called a meta-gene bomb into the Overworld’s atmosphere, and I was too far away to do anything about it. But I learned about the effects of the bomb when I returned, to find my people — all of them — in the throes of agony as the bomb triggered their meta-genes, causing them first to fall into a catatonic state, and then awake to manifest a wide variety of super-powers previously unknown to our people. Until then, we had all shared the same traits, but now everyone had different powers — flame-throwing, invisibility, size-changing, nuclear blasts, and many others. I could do nothing, especially not after my symptoms began to return, forcing me to flee once more.

“A tenth of the entire population of my homeworld was killed off in the first week, before things began to settle back down to normal. None of us were prepared for such a wide variety of mutations to befall our people, but the fact that they’d previously had super-powers did help them to cope better than other populations would. As for me, I pursued the trail of the Dominators back to this galaxy, to this planet, where I witnessed the defeat of their Alien Armada by the heroes of this world. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Invasion, Book 3: The Return.]

“Spent and exhausted by the ordeal, I quietly settled back into my old life as Andrew Meda, gaining a job with my former employer and living a quiet life as a human while avoiding all superhumans as best I could. My life was lonely but uneventful, until something finally triggered my old madness and caused the rampage yesterday that you managed to stop.”

“I suddenly reacquired super-powers yesterday as well, but it occurred after you had suffered your own attack,” said Stacy. “I’m sorry for what’s happened to you, but I’m also glad I wasn’t the cause of your latest attack!”

“I am better now,” he said. “I speculate that a sudden surge in cosmic energy triggered my old condition, but it has passed, and I am able to be around your energies and those of the Star Sapphire without any change in my condition.”

“I only came here to see if your situation was connected to my own,” said Stacy. “I guess this cosmic power you spoke of gave me my powers as well, or at least changed the ones I once possessed!”

“When I revived in the hospital I was in my right mind, and thus I came home quickly,” said Karb-Brak. “As for Star Sapphire, my Psi-Machine shall enable us to render her helpless!”

Stacy frowned as she looked down at the stricken woman. “What, exactly, are you doing to her?” she said. “I don’t believe in murder!”

Karb-Brak shrugged and said, “Nor do I, in most cases. The Psi-Machine enables the user to project a limited altered reality around its victim. I once used it against Superman, and it enabled me to make him believe that he was a citizen of your planet’s Revolutionary War era Philadelphia after I tricked him into traveling to that era. Not only did he fully believe it, but those he encountered in that time also readily accepted him as such thanks to my machine.”

“Somehow, I can’t see her wearing a hoop skirt!” replied Stacy.

Karb-Brak frowned and said, “I do not understand your reference.”

“I was joking,” she replied. “Are you planning to send her to some distant time, too?”

“Not at all,” said the alien. “I intend to use one of the Psi-Machine’s other functions on her. It can also project the personal history of anyone caught beneath its mental domination. Now let us discover the secrets of the Star Sapphire!”

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