As Cassie Sandsmark looked around at the futuristic city around her where the rather primitive Mars Isle used to be, a familiar voice suddenly spoke from out of view.
“You’re right! This is the future. In fact, it is an alternate branch of one particular thirtieth-century timeline!” explained Artemis, who appeared seemingly from nowhere, accompanied by a dark-haired man clad in a gleaming royal robe.
Cassie rushed up and hugged her, starting to explain her own adventure, when Lord Chaos interrupted her.
“This beauteous creature is a daughter of Olympus!” he explained. “I can tell by looking at her!”
Artemis stepped back and looked at Cassie as she placed her arms on the girl’s arms. “You’re become strong! Is he right?” asked Donna Troy Long.
“Yes,” said Cassie. “It’s a long story. Short version is I’m a super-heroine now, or at least I’ve been trained to be one! I wanted to help you all, and somehow that drew me to this place and time! Who’s your friend?”
“He’s not my friend,” replied Artemis. “He’s… well… just say he’s an ally for now!”
Lord Chaos smiled and said, “We will have eons to learn all about one another when I have dealt with the rash mortal who fancies himself the Time Master.”
“Is he here?” asked Artemis. “What happened to Nubia?”
“She is here,” said Lord Chaos. “I know that much, but even my mystical might can tell me nothing more!”
A strange cry rang out through the deserted street, heralding the sudden appearance of Tyroc, who materialized to confront the trio. “None of you belong here!” he said.
“I go where I please, you impudent mortal!” said Lord Chaos, raising one hand, only to gasp in shock as nothing happened. “What madness is this? I meant to smite the mortal with a bolt of fury!”
“Maybe your batteries are low,” said Artemis, vaulting forward to kick Tyroc in the chest with both feet.
The hero grunted and staggered backward, then uttered a thunderous shout.
Suddenly, Artemis found herself trapped by a series of vines that erupted from beneath the pavement, threatening to crush her. As she flexed her muscles, she broke free even as Tyroc renewed his attack with another yell.
At that, a whirlwind swirled into being, sweeping the heroine across the street and into Lord Chaos.
As the tyrant demigod crashed to the ground, he said, “This is intolerable! Ever since I brought you here, my powers have ceased to work! What has happened to the glory and the grandeur that was Chaos?”
Darting forward, Cassie instinctively called upon her extensive training as she rolled acrobatically across the pavement until she had cleared the space between herself and the man in white and black. Grabbing him by his white shirt, the teen pulled him into a flip that sent him crashing to the ground. Before Tyroc could rise, she connected with a spinning kick and knocked him back again.
Wiping his bleeding mouth, Tyroc shouted once again.
Flames suddenly blazed around Cassie in a rising circle, but before she could register a true sense of fear, she had already jumped high above them to land several yards away. It’s amazing! she thought. I developed and learned to use real super-powers while I was training with Chiron, but no real time has passed now that I’m back in the real world!
Snaring Tyroc in her magic lasso, Artemis jerked him off his feet, but he merely teleported out of the gleaming rope with another shout of power. “He’s gone!” she said in astonishment. “Who was he, and what did he do to Nubia?”
“I don’t know,” said Cassie, “but that whole fight was, like, a total rush!”
“Somehow, you’ve really changed!” said an impressed Artemis. “You’re as strong as I am, from what I saw of the way you handled our foe!”
“And yet I am weaker than I have ever been!” said Lord Chaos. “My timeline was threatened when we first met, but now it is as though the events that gave birth to me are fading from history!”
Artemis thought, If the Time Master has taken over this island, then he may be able to literally wipe people out of history. I’m not sure if losing Chaos would be that big a loss, but I won’t let anyone die if I can help it!
Presently, the group found themselves standing before the town hall, where three costumed beings awaited them.
The first man had stark white hair and wore a brilliant green and red costume with lightning bolts emblazoned on his chest. His dark-haired male companion wore purple and blue, and stared at the women with frank admiration. The female, who had bright red hair, wore high-heeled red boots and a blue outfit with dark leggings and a very short skirt, along with a picture of the planet Saturn on her blouse.
“I am Saturn Queen,” said the woman. “This is Lightning Lord, and my final ally is Cosmic King! We have claimed this island of Marzal for our own, and have enslaved its champion Tyroc with my super-hypnosis! Your minds reveal that you are from the benighted twentieth century of Superman himself. Clearly, you came here through means beyond our understanding, since you are not Legionnaires. Still, you cannot hope to oppose us. We are using this island to prepare for our own recruitment of allies for an attack on enemies of our own! Your arrival threatens that mission!”
Artemis couldn’t help but notice that the mocking woman referred to Mars Isle by some time-altered name: Marzal. This is what Mars Isle will become in the thirtieth century! Nubia won’t like this at all!
“Nubia has nothing to say about it — she is another slave under my mental thrall!” said Saturn Queen as Nubia approached from the shadows with her sword drawn.
“Uh-oh!” said Cassie. “She’s under some spell!”
Tyroc materialized into their midst as well, and the team of five foes began to close in on the trio.
“These witless mortals will pay for such effrontery!” vowed Lord Chaos.
“I think you better stay back, since you seem powerless!” said Cassie.
Chaos scowled at the girl, but he obeyed her as well. He was lost without his cosmic powers.
Artemis charged toward Nubia as if to engage her in battle, only to turn abruptly to tackle Tyroc. Before he could do so much more than open his mouth to speak, she had knocked him out cold.
Unfortunately, even as she defeated the hapless hero, Artemis was struck with a bolt of lightning tossed by a grinning Lightning Lord. Fighting through the pain, she rose up again to narrowly dance out of the path of a second bolt. These maniacs have real power! Donna realized. It’s not going to be possible to defeat them without freeing Nubia from their control!
Nubia was aiming the sword she had once received from Mars himself at Cassie, but then her arms suddenly stiffened, and she trembled, dropping the sword. Her lovely features contorted as her lips drew back to reveal clenched teeth.
“I am Nubia the Wonder Woman, princess of Paradise Island, and daughter of Queen Hippolyta herself!” she cried. “I have played along with you until now! Your mind will never enslave me, as no chain will ever hold me!”
Saturn Queen reeled backward as Cosmic King steadied her with a casual gesture. “That witch defied me!” she cried, placing one hand to her brow. “She is fighting my super-hypnosis! Her willpower must be as great as Superman’s!”
Wonder Woman hurled her tiara across the air, connecting with Saturn Queen’s head. The villainess collapsed to the ground, but the tiara froze in midair as Cosmic King stopped its normal flight.
Cassie Sandsmark charged at Lightning Lord even as the air erupted with his blazing bolts. Adroitly managing to avoid one after another, she moved with the speed and grace of a true champion.!
Lightning Lord began to scowl as his best efforts failed to connect with the super-fast girl. “I’ll burn her to ashes!” he hissed.
Cosmic King used his powers of transmutation to deflect Nubia’s tiara by creating an inertron shield that deflected the projectile toward Artemis, who ducked by inches and leaped to safety. Before the villain could take another countermeasure, Nubia lashed out with one end of her magic lasso and slapped Cosmic King across the face.
“I thought my power would enable me to alter that gold rope!” he whined, and started to rise, but by that time Wonder Woman was already on top of him. Nubia felt her body convulse with pain as he tried to convert her body to lead, but she persevered long enough to drive her fist into his face, stunning him. The tiara fell to the ground as he passed out.
Meanwhile, Cassie had reached Lightning Lord, and he had blazed with enough bright, crackling electricity that he looked like a humanoid-shaped being of pure energy. “You may be too fast for me, but then you can’t touch me, either!” he gloated.
Cassie just grinned, then knocked him out with one punch. “Lightning doesn’t even muss my hair, pal!” she laughed. “My dad is Zeus!“
Wonder Woman retrieved her fallen weapons and smiled broadly as Artemis and Lord Chaos congratulated Cassie. “Well done, Cassandra!” said Nubia. “I heard bits and pieces of your conversation while I was fighting Saturn Queen’s spell. You certainly fought like an Olympian!”
“Now use your sword and slay these foul miscreants!” said Lord Chaos.
“No,” said Nubia. “I do not kill!”
“He’s slow to grasp that concept,” said Artemis. “This is Lord Chaos, the guy who kidnapped Diana a while back!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The New Titans: Quest, Chapter 4: Kidnapped from Paradise.]
Nubia scowled. “You will never try to harm my sister again!” she said, glaring at the man.
“I meant her no harm,” said Lord Chaos. “Princess Diana is, after all, my mother!”
“Artemis, what is he doing here?” asked Nubia.
“He freed me from the Time Master,” explained Artemis. “I owe him that much thanks!”
“Artemis is my intended!” Lord Chaos announced.
Cassie Sandsmark smothered a giggle as she saw Artemis roll her eyes and slap the ardent man’s hands away from her back.
With a moan, Tyroc sat up abruptly. “This has been one bad dream!” he groaned. “Thank you for freeing me. I was under that witch’s spell!”
“No thanks are needed,” said Nubia. “I heard them speak of you after they thought they had enslaved my mind. They said you were the hero of Marzal, as they called this island.”
Tyroc nodded and said, “I don’t know about being a hero, exactly, but I do try to help my people. This island was out of sync with this dimension until very recently. Something just forced it back here. I have some friends here, but I haven’t always treated them as well as I should have. My time away taught me that much. Those three invaders came here and attacked me, took over my mind, and put the people into some hypnotic sleep. They have a grudge against the friends I mentioned. They aren’t exactly from this time. A genius I know says these three come from what he calls a possible alternate future that diverts from our time. He says these three really have younger counterparts in this era.” He chuckled and added, “It’s complicated.”
“Where is the Time Master?” demanded Lord Chaos. “He is the one we truly seek!”
Tyroc shrugged and said, “I’ve heard of the Time Trapper, but not any Time Master!“
“Is it just me,” said Cassie as she looked around, “or is the island fading away?”
With a quick nod of her head, Nubia turned to the young hero and said, “Tyroc, take care of the people of Marzal. They deserve a good protector, as you clearly are!”
The hero and sometime-member of the Legion of Super-Heroes named Tyroc nodded and waved as the women and Lord Chaos faded from view. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Hero Who Hated the Legion,” Superboy #216 (April, 1976).]
“We’re back in the void again!” said Artemis, spotting the familiar forms of the purple-robed Time Master and his female ally.
“I see you all survived your little adventures in time,” the Time Master said in a patronizing tone. “After all, I never truly meant to kill any of you! Why, I can see that you’ve actually benefited from your experience!” With a nod toward Cassie, he said, “A new Wonder Girl is born!”
“Me, Wonder Girl?!” said Cassie Sandsmark, even as she recalled her future vision.
Rushing at the Time Master, Lord Chaos demanded, “What game are you playing?”
“No game,” said the Time Master. “I merely misdirected the ladies long enough for me to accomplish my goal. As some mine for minerals or rare gems, I have mined this island for its unique chronal energies! I have tapped into the energy that allows this island to travel up and down the cosmic axis. I no longer need the island itself, since in effect I now carry that power within me!”
“And my power is still sadly lacking!” said Lord Chaos. “What have you done to me, churl?”
“I have merely allowed a process started by the Crisis itself to reach fruition,” said the Time Master with a shrug. “You ruled one timeline. I seek to rule them all. Thus, I have very delicately excised your particular timeline! Diana is now an infant. She never gave birth to you, nor did she marry the man history showed to be your father. That started a gradual decaying of your timeline. Now you have been duped into leaving that timeline, and by doing so you have lost your powers. You are no threat to me!”
The female companion of the Time Master laughed softly and whispered in his ear as she cast one mocking gaze at Lord Chaos.
Screaming in rage, Chaos rushed at the Time Master, his already inflated ego unable to stand any additional ridicule.
The Time Master merely sighed, then blasted his attacker with waves of chronal energy. “You have brought this upon yourself!” he said in a lecturing tone.
Lord Chaos shuddered, then began to shrink. “Curse him!” he cried. “He’s making me younger! He’s going to eliminate me from time itself!” He staggered backward, first as a teen, and then as a small boy.
Wonder Woman, Artemis, and Cassie charged forward to help the stricken being as he transformed into a baby. The infant Lord Chaos gazed up at Artemis with strangely knowing eyes and clasped her hand before fading from view entirely, as the energy that had enveloped him swept over her.
Nubia helped her to her feet. “Are you harmed, sister?” she asked as Artemis gasped for breath.
“No, I am fine,” replied Donna Troy Long. “I just had a weird sensation as he vanished in my arms. I’d almost have called it a contraction if I didn’t know better!”
“He killed him with just a wave!” cried Cassie, shuddering in fear for the first time since becoming a heroine.
“Ah-ah-ah,” replied the Time Master. “How can you murder someone who never existed? He was never born! In a matter of moments, you will all forget that he ever met you. The events that drew you together when he tried to steal your baby sister indeed occurred, but his role in them will soon be erased from time!”
Wonder Woman blinked once or twice as she held Artemis by one arm. “What is wrong?” asked Nubia. “You and I were about to confront the Time Master after you and Cassandra found me in the Marzal of the future, when you just froze in place.”
“It’s — it’s nothing,” said Artemis, somewhat confused. “I just suddenly remembered that case from a while back when the Greek Titans of myth kidnapped Diana. That was when we learned about the children they’d abducted eons ago. They called them seeds. We rescued them and placed them with Lilith and Mr. Jupiter. They wanted to make Diana one of their young pupils, too, until we convinced them to leave her alone!”
The Time Master smiled, noting with satisfaction that they no longer had any memory of Lord Chaos or his past actions. “Well, as I said, I have obtained the energy I mined from this isle. Unfortunately, I fear it will also return to its previous instability. You see, Mars Isle has always existed in what you term the real world for a span of thirty years or so, only to vanish into another dimension for another thirty years before reappearing once more, while two hundred years passed in the real world.
“Meanwhile, the island always had the remarkably prescient ability to cause the inhabitants to progress in both technology and culture at the same rate as the outer world, despite less time passing on Mars Isle. When the eponymous god of war decided to use this Floating Island to spread war upon the earth in the twentieth century, he used his godly power to manipulate the space-time warp to his own ends, even as he restored the inhabitants to a more primitive tribal state in order to better control them. They were descendants of escaped African slaves one and all, but had built an advanced civilization akin to that of the western world until Mars made them his tribal warriors.
“Now that I have drained from its core the energy imbued by the god of war, the island will once more vanish for centuries at a time. Without the war god’s interference, the island’s civilization will once again keep up with the times, and even the origin of the island’s name will be forgotten in time by future inhabitants to come. Forgetting all that they once knew about the war god in the twentieth century, the scientifically minded inhabitants of the future will merely believe that Marzal means ‘the new world’ in their original tongue. (*) Ah, but I do go on, don’t I? I think I shall depart and leave you ladies to stay or leave as you please.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Brigadoon Syndrome,” Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #265 (July, 1980).]
As their erstwhile foe vanished once more, Wonder Woman, Cassie Sandsmark, and Artemis found themselves standing on the Mars Isle they had left originally. Dr. Helena Sandsmark and her pupils were standing over the dig site as the air shimmered with strange energy.
“Mom!” cried Cassie as she embraced her mother.
“My goodness!” said Helena, both surprised and pleased. “I’m glad to see you, too! I thought you were still mad at me for bringing you here!”
“No way!” said Cassie. “It’s been the greatest spring break I’ve ever had! We’ve got a lot to talk about, too!”
“Dr. Sandsmark, all of you must clear the isle!” Wonder Woman said urgently. “My robot plane awaits offshore. The island is leaving this dimension!”
“Nubia, are you staying here or coming with us?” asked Artemis with concern.
“My people will eventually have a great champion in Tyroc,” Nubia replied. “I can trust that the destiny of Marzal will be a prosperous one from the future we saw! I must stay in our world and time and carry on Diana’s crusade as Wonder Woman. We must honor her legacy in that manner, sisters!”
They helped the visiting pupils and Dr. Helena Sandsmark depart from Marzal as it flickered from the dimension it had occupied for decades in this century. Someday it would return, but as Nubia watched it fade away, she raised her sword in salute.
“May Hera watch over you! May you become the great people you were born to be!” she cried. “The Time Master indeed got away with what he wanted, but he may have also set my people back upon the path they were meant to take, if we may judge that from Tyroc’s era!” she added softly.
It was indeed a time of change, but also of new beginnings.