Two women walked off an airplane, one slightly behind the other. With similar builds and faces, they were almost close enough in appearance to be sisters. They had made flights to San Francisco from other cities and deplaned at Tokyo International.
One of them, Kimiyo Hoshi, had been working in Coast City the previous year and had been treated badly by Arthur Light and a wizard in a microverse. The Justice League had freed her, and she had concluded her project for Ferris Air as fast as she could. (*) Since then she had accepted several other jobs using her expertise in physics and astronomy to help complete what would be a new breed of orbiting telescopes.
She was returning to her home, finally, when she heard of a strange story that Sunburst had come back from the dead. She knew that was impossible; she had attended his funeral service herself. It had been one of many in the aftermath of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Final Crisis,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (March, 1986).]
The other woman had been conducting business in Washington, D.C., and felt cheated. She had wanted her brother dead, but Baron Winters’ agent had merely turned him over to the police for charges. She would not be satisfied until her brother was dead.
The Shadow Swordsman was looked at coldly through the bars of his cell door. They had placed him in the cramped area after the hole in his hand had been treated by the prison doctors. The flesh on both sides of his hand were sewn shut, the ligaments burned by the intense beam.
One more thing to put on the head of the resurrected Sunburst.
Still, the simpletons who guarded him did not know the full extent of his abilities. He waited quietly in his cell for his chance, agreeing with his attorney without listening to the man’s babbling.
The swords of Morimoto were separated from him by only a few feet. One stray movement of the blades, and chaos would reign.
Takeo Sato sat up in the morgue, throwing aside the sheet that covered him. He ignored the blackened area on his chest where the shadow demon had gripped his heart during the Crisis. Instead he went to the door, wondering what had happened to his clothes.
He looked around until he found a set of lockers behind a fence. On the locked gate to the enclosure was a sign with the words personal effects written in white paint. Gripping the lock in his hand, he summoned his solar energy, and the lock melted quietly as he waited. But he still felt weak after his ordeal. He let the melted metal drip to the floor as he stepped inside the area. A brief search netted him his costume. He quickly put it on and walked away.
The signs leading to the exit beckoned him. He still couldn’t fly, but at least Sunburst would walk out of the morgue under his own power. How many could claim that?
The man known as the Shadow Swordsman had been behind bars for little more than eight hours when the guards came to take him to the court. If there was enough evidence, he would be held for another judge to hear his case in a day or so.
Waiting patiently for the guard to open the cell door, he then hobbled along in the leg and arm manacles he was kept in as he was escorted to the courtroom. Maybe his lawyer could have them removed if he had no super-powers without the swords of Morimoto. Still, he would be lucky to have a lawyer at this preliminary trial.
He listened impassively as the charges were read out for the judge; he already knew what they were. He pleaded not guilty and was led back to his cell after a lawyer was appointed to him. There was nothing to do but wait until he went to trial.
At least Sunburst had been finished by the battle on the rooftop. Without him, the state’s case was incredibly weak.
Kimiyo Hoshi went through customs and then took her baggage home. She freshened up, changing into the silver costume she had made her own. A light platform extended from her hands carried her to the morgue at the Tokyo criminal laboratory. She needed to know if Takeo was really alive.
Heroes beat death all the time. It was possible that he had been buried alive and had dug himself out much later. That could be an explanation. Maybe someone had decided to use Sunburst’s identity as some kind of tribute. The earth had seemingly bloomed with new heroes and villains since the Crisis.
In any case, she was going to see for herself if Takeo had taken up his costumed career again without telling anyone he was alive.
Takeo Sato found his bundle of clothes and put them on over his costume. He felt better now that he was out in the sun again. It was like standing in a refreshing rain. Had he changed so much?
Noticing a streak of light lance through the sky, he watched it head for the morgue, knowing it could only be one person. But he wasn’t ready to face Kimiyo yet. Instead he walked on, hands in his pockets. Maybe a trip to the country was in order.
Takeo smiled slightly. If he hurried, he could catch the express train out of the city. He could devote time to think about his situation when he reached his destination. He needed a place with nothing to distract him from trying to decide what his life should be now that he had some of it back.
The woman walked into the station, looking around in disgust. These low-born commoners should have been bowing to her, but now she needed their permission to see her brother.
She put on a mask of pleasantness and signed her signature on the necessary paperwork. The officer then led her to the cell holding her brother, who didn’t bother to look up when she stood at the bars.
“I see you are one step from where you belong,” she said.
“We’ll see how long I am here,” said the Shadow Swordsman, head bowed. “Then you will see the price of unpleasantness.”
“You will never get out of here,” his sister vowed. “I am glad Baron Winters’ agent didn’t kill you now. You belong in a cage.”
“The illustrious Baron Winters and his Night Force,” the pale man said. “That would explain Sunburst quite neatly. How much did it cost you to raise the dead, sister?”
“That doesn’t matter, does it?” said the woman. “You’re in here, and I will possess the swords of Morimoto. I just wanted you to know.”
“You think so?” he said, smiling slightly. “I will soon be gone from this place, and then I will be at your doorstep to revenge myself on you.”
“I doubt it, brother,” she said. “If you can’t deal with a dead man, I don’t think you can deal with me.”
“We’ll see,” he said, waving her away from his cell. “We’ll see shortly.”
Doctor Light was not happy.
Kimiyo Hoshi had stood at the door to the morgue and listened as an attendant tried to explain that they had lost Takeo’s body. She wanted to shred the man into tatters with her energy beam. He tried to hide his discomfort at her anger, keeping away from her warily. Takeo Sato had walked away without anyone seeing when, or how, he had left. The doctor walked out of the morgue, trying to think of where Takeo would go.
She flew to the grave site, deep in thought. Kimiyo had a long conversation with Takeo after the death of Supergirl; the talks had been for her. (*) She could not think of anything he had said that would give her a clue to where he could have gone.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Beyond the Silent Night,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (October, 1985).]
Doctor Light studied the portrait of Sunburst, racking her brain. She remembered when she and the Rising Sun had stood side by side at Takeo’s funeral only a few days later and watched the priests perform the ceremony.
Takeo Sato found the path from his childhood. The bullet train track had cut through the countryside from the station in Tokyo, and he walked from the nearby station through the small town that led to the seashore, then toward the trees that bordered the highway leading toward Osaka. There he had found his path.
He had first learned to fly here, as well as to shoot the energy beams that had earned him his name. He had thought it wonderful to be better than everyone else then. His meeting a few years later with Superboy, later to be Superman, had taught him a more valuable lesson in self-knowledge. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Sunburst, Public Enemy #1,” New Adventures of Superboy #45 (September, 1983), “Land of the Rising Sunburst,” New Adventures of Superboy #46 (October, 1983), and “The Secret of Sunburst,” New Adventures of Superboy #47 (November, 1983).]
Takeo climbed up the shallow incline, enjoying the effort it took to walk. He felt stronger but knew that at any time he could lose consciousness and fall back into a coma. Something was giving him a form of life, but apparently it had limits on how much it would let him push his body in its new condition.
Doctor Light took flight over Tokyo, carried by a circle of light into the air. Night had fallen, eerily draping the city in conflict with the lights from the cityscape. She headed for her own home at a moderate pace.
She hoped that some kind of inspiration would come to her but realized that she might have to look into the background of Japan’s former hero. She was still half-certain that the attendants had made a terrible mistake identifying the body.
Kimiyo Hoshi didn’t want to think about the fact that the corpse had decided to leave on its own accord. That was something to be denied with logic and rationality.
“Were things ever that simple?” she asked herself as she bathed and readied to go to bed. It had been a long trip, and she needed to rest before she could force herself to chase this copycat down.
Maybe someone she had met in the hero community, like Katana, could help her figure out what was going on. It was a course she detested, but it seemed necessary in the light of events. She dowsed the light and lay awake for a long time thinking before sleep claimed her.
The Shadow Swordsman stood away from the barred door when the bailiffs arrived to take him to the courtroom above. He tried to be patient as his manacles were put in place around his arms and legs. This was the start of his trial, and he mustn’t be late.
The bailiffs marched him out of the cell block to an elevator, and they rode up to the proper floor silently. He hobbled forward patiently; soon, he thought, he would teach these oafs a lesson.
The Swordsman paused in his walk when he saw his sister outside the courtroom. She seemed happy to see him in chains. He nodded to her civilly as he passed. No need to start anything before he was ready, he knew.
Walking to his spot behind the defense table, he watched as the swords of Morimoto were brought in, marked as evidence for his trial. He kept himself in check as he looked at them.
He felt he could seize his weapons and demonstrate their effectiveness on the people in the courtroom and in the city beyond.
Patience, he told himself. Patience.