Although her haughty façade did little to show it, Dawnstar was troubled by many emotions. She had meant what she had said to the officer about the value of all living beings. In addition to the values of cherishing all life that her training as a child on Starhaven had given her, she also honored the Legion code against killing. That devotion to higher ideals had pained her terribly when she had been placed in a seemingly hopeless plight a while back. That conflict had ended only with the death of an enemy and her own feelings of guilt and sorrow. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Lost Among the Missing,” Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #322 (April, 1985).]
Dawnstar also waged an inner war as she struggled to reconcile her romantic feelings for a teammate with the limitations his unique nature placed upon any possible relationship. She had grown to love Wildfire, alias Drake Burroughs, but due to an accident years before, the fiery Legionnaire only existed as a disembodied cloud of anti-energy within a containment suit that was more mockery of true humanoid life than a representation of it.
She loved a man she could never touch. She could never kiss him, nor could she ever feel his caress. In times of crisis, he could offer her words of love and support, and he could be by her side, but he could never truly offer her any physical signs of love or affection. Dawnstar’s people had a strong sense of communion with nature. The Starhaven natives felt closer to the Great Spirit when they were in contact with nature or with the tactile parts of their environment. This made the passionate young woman yearn for something she could touch. Wildfire could never offer her that.
Dawnstar had once considered herself to be resigned to life with a companion or soul-mate who truly was only her mate in a spiritual way, but then the same case that had cost her what she called her blood innocence had also made her consider love with a man who could give her a physical relationship.
Now she shrugged off her concerns and tried to lose herself in duty. She had also attempted to distance herself from Wildfire of late, and knowing that her actions had hurt him had only brought her more pain. She hid that pain as she reached Earth and her Legion flight ring’s code signal allowed her to pass through the polymer shield that enveloped Earth protectively like the embrace of the Great Spirit.
She soon reached Legion of Super-Heroes Headquarters in Metropolis, and she ignored a group of autograph-hungry tourists as she sped through the plaza that led to their base. She frowned as she encountered the newest Legionnaire, who called herself Andromeda. The girl from Rokyn named Lesla Vol-Lar had taken the heroic name at the same moment she had been sworn into the team, and now the young blonde in blue and red smiled as Dawnstar drew closer.
“Dawnstar, I’m glad to see you,” said Lesla. “Blok was showing me the basics about the communications system when Computo chimed in with an urgent message for you from your father. He says they need you on Starhaven immediately, but he gave no details.”
Dawnstar nodded and said, “Such taciturnity is Mist-Rider’s nature. No doubt Computo refrained from projecting its normal holo display directly to me in order to avoid distracting me while I was engaged in my mission. I’ll go at once. Please have the mission monitor board indicate that fact.”
“Would you like some company?” asked Andromeda. “So much about this universe is new to me, since Rokyn was a phase world that spent much of its time in another realm.”
Dawnstar saw the young girl’s eager interest and silenced her with an abrupt but polite reply. “No, thank you. Where I travel, I travel alone!” She turned on one heel and hurried away.
Andromeda watched her go, then returned to study the communications system. She knew the Legion was composed of many different personality types. Some were as perky and warm as Phantom Girl, while others carried a more abrasive manner like the regal Sensor Girl, the slightly catty Dream Girl, or the fiery Wildfire. She hoped to get to know them all in time.
Soon enough, Dawnstar was soaring through the ocean of space with her usual speed. She was deeply worried about her family, since in truth she knew their generally undemonstrative manner had led to rather infrequent contact since she left Starhaven. I pray to the Great Spirit that they are well, she thought. If something has happened to my parents or the little boys, I’ll never forgive myself!
Dawnstar reached Starhaven in record time, since her natural speed, agility, and sense of direction put even the expert navigating skills of Sun Boy to shame. She inhaled as she dropped down to the natural splendor of Starhaven. “The scent of the flowers fills me with a sense of home. May the reality be as welcoming as it is in my dreams!”
She noticed the altered landscape as she drew closer to home, and she began to fear for what she might find. The small teepee that served as home to Mist-Rider and his family looked largely unchanged, except for the fact that a few trees had fallen down as if struck by a sudden storm.
As her boots touched the ground, she was greeted by a woman who looked much like Dawnstar herself, except for the fact that her hair was lighter, and she was older. “Dawnstar, you are as welcome as the Great Spirit’s refreshing touch!” she said as she came forward to embrace her daughter.
Dawnstar allowed the embrace to linger for a moment before she stepped back and gazed at her mother’s tired face. “Mother, what is wrong?” she asked. “Why have you summoned me here?” She stopped and bent down on her knees as a small boy peered around the corner of the home and stared at her. “Greatfire, don’t you remember me? It’s Dawnstar!”
The boy came forward slowly and then impulsively flung himself into her arms. She held him close and then let him sit on her lap as she said, “Is Mist-Rider well? Where is Greybird?”
“I am as well as a man may be who finds his world at war with itself!” said her father. “Daughter, I have summoned you here because great quakes threaten to destroy Starhaven. The elders have decided that we should depart from our home and make a passage of appeasement to beg the Great Spirit to forgive us for the wrongs we have committed! I hoped your Legion experience might give us another answer. As for young Greybird, he is inside because of misconduct. He will see you soon enough.”
The words had come rapidly and rather impassively from the big man who came up and placed one hand on Dawnstar’s cheek. “My child, I rejoice in your beauty and your strength,” he said. “I wish we were together under better conditions.”
Dawnstar gently placed Greatfire in Moonwalker’s arms as she stood up and gazed at her father with interest and worry. “Earthquakes are merely a natural phenomenon, not a sign of divine displeasure,” she said. “I know my ally Brainiac 5 could possibly calm such a fault line if he was here.”
“You know we do not welcome outworlders!” cried Nightwalker as the wild shaman leaped into view. “This sacred ground has been defiled as it is! I tell you that your willful interference will only bring down greater wrath upon us!”
Dawnstar frowned as she faced the other man. He was trembling with barely concealed emotion, and his hands clenched and unclenched in swift succession. “Nightwalker, you have lost none of your violent ways in the years since last we met!” she said with a sneer.
“I am more than I once was,” said Nightwalker. “I am touched by the Great Spirit. I am his tongue, and no woman may doubt me or my holy power!”
“He is still our shaman and is due respect,” said Mist-Rider. “He does speak the truth. I see your conduct toward him as changed little since he sought your hand in marriage when you were but a child!”
Dawnstar shuddered as she remembered how the previously angry and eccentric Nightwalker had asked Mist-Rider to give him the then-thirteen-year-old Dawnstar in wedlock. The offer had been refused, since his older age and his slightly strange manner had repelled the strong-willed girl.
“You rejected me once, and now I must tell you, proud and haughty one, that the Creator rejects us all for our sins,” he said. “We must flee, or all life on Starhaven will end!”
“This is madness and blasphemy,” said Dawnstar. “How could one as angry and out of touch with the natural world become the voice of our maker?”
“Nightwalker has always had a divine link,” said Moonwalker. “We can’t deny the fact that anyone so intimately connected with the Great Spirit might seem mad to ordinary beings!”
“Do not believe me,” said Nightwalker. “Merely look at the destruction caused by the quakes. The quakes speak for me. They prove my words!”
“Daughter, I had hoped you might stop the quakes,” said Mist-Rider. “Your time as a Legionnaire has given you much wisdom beyond our own bounds.”
“I am no scientist,” said Dawnstar. “I could summon my friends, should you allow it.”
“We have no need of foreigners,” said Nightwalker. “I will offer you this hope. Perhaps Dawnstar alone may appease the maker by finding out what even my own efforts cannot reveal. She might seek his will through a vision quest. I feel as if she might have been guided here for a reason beyond any you conceived of when you summoned her.”
Dawnstar nodded slowly and said, “If that is what I must do, so shall I do it!”