As they ran from the hotel to the older Legion Cruiser, Green Thumb looked at Ultragirl. “Do you think those bonds will hold him?” he asked.
She smirked. “Not if he’s like me. I’d be out in less than a minute.” From inside a loud shout was heard, and Ultra Boy crashed through the door.
“Too late!” said Ultragirl as she threw Green Thumb into Ultra Boy. “I was just leaving. You can have this loser instead.”
Ultra Boy caught the falling Green Thumb and set him on the ground. Ultragirl blew him a kiss, then dashed into the Cruiser. Engines hot, it blasted through the Martian sky and was soon out of sight. Even Ultra Boy had trouble following it with his ultra-vision.
“Jo?” came Lightning Lass’ voice behind him. “Tellus is really hurt. Can we get him to Medical One?”
“You take him, Ayla; I have business with this phony, here.” She nodded, and soon the emergency transmat engulfed both Tellus and Lightning Lass as they traveled to the medical space station.
Ultra Boy turned to Green Thumb and snarled, “Now, what in the name of the Great Bird of the Galaxy is going on? Why did that fake Supergirl insist that she was named Ultragirl? She sure has no connection to me! She used more than one power at a time, for one thing.”
Legion Headquarters, Weisinger Plaza:
“Amazing. Simply amazing! I thought all of her people were destroyed after they attempted to colonize Europe!”
“That was in our dimension, Guardian. Things are different here, yet not that different! I’m startled by how much their Brainiac 5 looks like our old foe!”
Two figures emerged from the ship across the way. Dawnstar gasped in shock. “Mano, the Emerald Empress — here? All right, what’s going on?”
Brainiac 5 touched his force-field belt and projected a containing shield around the two figures. “I have a theory that things are not as they seem,” he said calmly.
Mano looked at the Emerald Empress lookalike. She smiled and turned to the heroes. “Don’t be afraid. We are not the people you think we are. Indeed, in our dimension, we are the heroes, much as yourself.”
Mano muttered, “Or we were.”
“I am the Green Guardian; though my powers are similar to your Emerald Empress’, they stem from a power ring belonging to one of my ancestors — a founding member of the Crime Syndicate of America. I seek to undo what he did.”
Dawnstar’s head was spinning. “You mean you’re from another dimension? Another Earth?”
“We are — or, rather, were — from Earth-Three. When the Crisis ended, so did our universe. However, Mano and I were on assignment for the Faultless Five, tracking down a renegade Legion force sent to this universe to either kidnap R.J. Brande or steal his star-making equipment.”
Dawnstar nodded. “It’s what Dream Girl and I both saw in our respective visions. But if your universe was destroyed, then why does this Legion persist in trying to complete their mission?”
Mano responded this time. “They want to control Brande as a means of establishing themselves in this universe. With his tools, they can make and break stars, giving them control over the U.P.”
“Then to fight them, we need to know their strength and some of their skills,” said Brainiac 5. “If they are indeed counterparts of our allies, we have a reasonable basis upon which to calculate what we are facing. As for Brande, he is far away, but his equipment remains at risk.”
Dream Girl posed rather dramatically. “When I was leader, I would have taken precautions, but then I could see the future in advance!”
Brainiac 5 frowned. “Do not worry. While Element Lad and I lack your powers of precognition, we have taken a few logical steps to safeguard Brande’s Asteroid.”
The Green Guardian smiled. “It’s almost as if you read my mind, Legionnaire. That is exactly why Mano and I sought you out. Thank you. Together we can defeat the Cabal of Super-Criminals.”
Dream Girl ran one hand through her platinum hair and wondered if perhaps the traitor from her nightmare vision had indeed been an evil counterpart to one of her partners. If a universe could produce seemingly benign versions of two members of the Fatal Five, then surely the reverse was also true.
Spectrum returned to the command center from the brig and reported to Plague. “We have the four of them tightly secured. I was afraid for a minute that the Imskian might prove troublesome, but Queen Projektra managed to find a suitable receptacle for her. She’ll have a hard time getting free from the Duranium alloy. And any small flaws she might escape from are filled with arsenide radiation.”
“What about Shadow Lass, Star Boy, and Timber Wolf?”
“Let’s just say that those notes we stole from that do-gooder Grimbor were right on the credit.”
Plague nodded. She made a course correction and said, “I received word from Ultragirl that her mission was successful on Mars. One casualty, though. Pyro was killed, and Green Thumb was captured. We’re going to rendezvous about two hours from now and make a direct assault on Brande’s headquarters. Make sure Grand Master and Her Majesty know about it.”
Spectrum nodded and headed out of the control deck. But under his breath he muttered that Plague needed to be taken down a bit.
Legion Headquarters, Earth:
Brainiac 5, Dream Girl, Dawnstar, and the White Witch followed the two members of the Faultless Five into their craft.
“We understand you have proof of your sincerity,” said Brainiac 5.
“Indeed,” said Mano. “Would you step to our deep cold unit?”
The Legionnaires followed the Green Guardian into the cryonic chamber at the rear of the ship. She pressed a button, and a drawer slid out. Dawnstar gasped in shock — it was Stone Boy. Behind him she heard a slight chuckle.
“We call him Granite on our planet,” said Mano.
Brainiac 5 already had a med-scanner over the frozen body. “Well, his heart is on the wrong side, and so is the rest of him. I think you’re right, Mano; this is your Granite.”
“Then who was Stone Boy? In the robbery on Mars, I mean?” asked White Witch.
Brainiac 5 gazed up at the pale woman named Mysa Nal and said, “He was obviously our Stone Boy acting on our behalf.”
“Bring the ship around to this heading, Granite,” ordered Ultragirl. “And be prepared to wait.”
They didn’t have to wait long. Plague’s ship showed up very soon after. The docking bay soon opened, and Ultragirl and Granite maneuvered the smaller scout vessel into the landing pad.
They were met by Grand Master and Queen Projektra. “Did you get the Starstone?” asked Queen Projektra.
“Yes, but at a big cost. Pyro was killed, and Green Thumb was captured. Only this useless one survived.” Ultragirl jerked a thumb at Granite. “But we did manage to defeat three Legionnaires.”
“Our mission was successful, too,” said Grand Master. “In fact, we managed to capture four Legionnaires. They’re in the brig now.”
Ultragirl nodded. “I’m heading for the bridge. It’s time Plague remembers who’s in charge around here.”
Queen Projektra, alias Hallucination, frowned. “She is only in charge because we all know her lover is the smartest one in our Cabal of Super-Criminals. If he can’t restore our lost universe, no one can!”
Stone Boy headed for the brig. Ever since Rokk Krinn and Lydda Jath had infiltrated him, he had been very careful about his activities. But he had to see just who was in the brig.
No one stopped him. He wandered in nonchalantly and stared. Shadow Lass struggled inside a zippered hooded bag that prevented her from using her dark powers. Star Boy and Timber Wolf were bound using the latest technology from Grimbor, he judged. And Shrinking Violet was stuffed in a small bottle he guessed was duranium, if his mineral knowledge was any good.
“I wish I could get you out,” he whispered. “I could use a friend right now.” He felt a hand on his shoulder and jumped.
“Perhaps a friend is closer than you think, mon ami!”
The Brande Asteroid:
Something still didn’t feel right to Polar Boy as he sat in the star-maker’s large conference room with Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, and Night Girl. Somehow, Rokk and Lydda had gotten word of this plot weeks ago and had infiltrated Stone Boy into Earth-Three’s Legion.
“Maybe I’m just hurt that they didn’t include me in their planning. But then, I’m so by the book, some part of the plan might have leaked out.”
Rokk Krinn, alias Cosmic Boy, was showing the plan to the assembled heroes. “So far it’s been business as usual. With the exceptions of both Brainiac 5 and Element Lad, this plan has been kept secret. Not even R.J. Brande’s chief of staff knows. I’m glad Brande himself is off in deep space.”
Chameleon Boy said, “Maybe I should have been consulted as the head of the Legion Espionage Squad and Brande’s heir.”
“We thought about that, Reep, but it was decided that this operation was best run apart from official Legion involvement,” said Rokk. “It’s an old concept, but deniability is everything, and your father has proven more than capable of defending himself on several occasions. The person who tipped us off insisted that we do everything with great stealth. He says it has to be that way. We will guard your father’s star-creating equipment back on his private asteroid.”
Cham nodded in hesitant agreement. “I still wonder why you insist on keeping the identity of this secret ally and his current location a secret. Plus, why did he seek out a reserve member, even though you were a founder?”
Lydda jumped in. “Rokk and I were best suited for this. I still had the contacts within the subs, while he had contacts within the Legion. And it was easy to convince Stone Boy of his role in this.”
“Now, however, the fact is that they know we’re aware of them, and may even have some inkling of their plans,” continued Rokk. “They’re certain to be more cautious when they try to claim Brande’s devices. That’s why we came here as soon as we could put our own plans under way.”
A cloaked vessel near Brande’s Asteroid:
“You’re certain our thoughts and our vessel are cloaked from prying minds?” Ultragirl asked Queen Projektra. The queen nodded, weakened by the effort. Ultragirl whirled to the console and pointed at Spectrum. “Prepare the transmat beam. Granite, Grand Master, and I should be enough to stop two relatively weak heroes and abduct Brande. We’ll be back soon!”
Stone Boy took his place on the transmat and thought to himself, I hope Jacques comes through here. If he doesn’t, then we’re all dead.
On the Brande Asteroid, the evil version of the Legion attacked with astonishing speed. A nubile maid serving Element Lad some kono juice gasped in horror as Grand Master appeared behind Jan Arrah, then struck him repeatedly with klurkor, karate, and savate blows. Jan fell almost immediately, unconscious and twitching.
Cosmic Boy wheeled to attack but felt his arms pinned to his side by strong hands. He tried to break free via repulsion of his attacker’s metabolic iron, but all that happened was a sudden severe pain. He stopped using his power and fell stunned by a blow from behind.
“Cosmic Boy had to give up using his power, or I would have ripped his arms off,” said Ultragirl. “Now, this equipment of Brande’s will enable to us repair our universe.”
Polar Boy tried to stop her, but he was faced with the furious attack of Grand Master, who broke through his protective ice and knocked him flat. He knew instinctively that this was, without a doubt, someone from one of the parallel universes Brainiac 5 went on about, and he was convinced of his evil intent. He fell hard as Ultragirl struck him at super-speed and sent him sailing out of the room. She returned to see Hallucination standing majestically over Night Girl.
“Poor dear. Her enhanced strength in darkness did her little good, since my powers left her unable to tell friend from foe!” she laughed.
Grand Master smiled and helped the blonde gather the equipment and activate a tractor beam to tow it behind their craft. Meanwhile, Ultragirl and Hallucination collected the fallen heroes. The transmat beam engaged, and the three felons faded from Brande’s ship. Little did they realize that they were not alone. A Venusian mite rode along on Ultragirl’s cape.
The disguised Chameleon Boy hoped his ruse would work. He hated to see his friends fall to the violent invaders, but his training enabled him to silently wait and bide his time. He recalled what his friends had revealed to him earlier, before they had arrived at Brande’s base.
An hour earlier:
Reep Daggle had caught up to Polar Boy as he left the Legion compound for their Cruiser. His antennae were bristling, and Chameleon Boy seemed out of breath. “Has Brainy finished with any of his studies of the matter yet?”
“Only that the Fire Lad we thought we knew is indeed from a different continuum. But before I get to the asteroid, Cham, I want to share some information with you — for your eyes only.”
Cham gave him a grim smile. “I thought you might still have a trick up your sleeve, frosty one!”
“I received a tight beam transmission from a missing Legion Cruiser an hour before we met with Rokk and Lydda,” explained Polar Boy. “Four of the Legionnaires were captured by the mirror Legion. The fifth has infiltrated them and made contact with Stone Boy. They were going to abduct Brande or steal his machines in order to open a portal to their destroyed universe and rebuild it one star at a time. Need I add that this backs up the data we gained from Mano and the Green Guardian?”
“Who was the agent?” Chameleon Boy asked, then smacked his hand against his head. “Jacques — of course! I should have known.”
“We need to keep that information between us,” said Polar Boy. “No one else knows that he’s free on the ship.”
“Agreed,” Reep had said.