Legion of Super-Heroes: To Rule a World, Chapter 1: Space Pirates

by Libbylawrence

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In the huge gym within Legion Headquarters in Metropolis, Earth, a petite young woman pushed herself relentlessly, continuing to wage an intense and dramatic battle with herself. She struggled to beat her past performance stats as she engaged in a fierce workout. A precisely refined sensor hovered above her and recorded all of her metabolic data. Now Salu Digby of Imsk, the Legionnaire known as Shrinking Violet, spun around and delivered a high kick to the padded hover bag, connecting with impressive force and accuracy.

A young man entered and watched with a mixture of approval and concern. “Vi, you’d break the Science Police Academy fitness standards with that kind of effort!” said Gim Allon, who had once been a Science Police cadet himself before joining the Legion as Colossal Boy.

Salu wiped sweat from her brow as her neat short hairdo fell back into place. “How high could those standards have been, anyway?” she snapped. “They did let you in, and you couldn’t even deduce that your bride was a shape-shifter!”

Gim frowned in dismay. “Hey, easy, there! I thought you and Yera had settled your differences. She may have been hired to impersonate you by those Imskian radicals while they imprisoned you, but she had no idea that you were not just away on a secret assignment.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: “Violet’s Story,” Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #305 (November, 1983).]

Vi wiped her face and nodded. “I know, I know. I believe her. I guess that was a low blow. I just get so angry when I remember being trapped in that senso-tank. It may take time for me to get past that, if I ever do. How is your wife?”

Gim grinned eagerly. He was still enjoying the bliss of being married. That earnest farm asteroid boy in the mega city demeanor of his was both refreshing and a bit annoying.

Vi found it more annoying as he exulted in telling her about his actress wife Yera and her attempts to master the meals his mother Marte Allon had been so successful at creating.

“So Yera set the comp-cooker for too high a setting,” said Gim. “I had to eat her charred creation and pretend that it was just great!”

“I assume your mother has more time to teach Yera how to program the cooker the way you like it since she is no longer President of Earth,” said Violet.

Gym agreed. “Right. Still, she has her doubts about President Desai. She says the world computer may have selected him as one of the candidates deemed worthy of the job, and he did get the votes to win, but he gives her the creeps.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Election Day,” Legion of Super-Heroes v3 #10 (May, 1985).]

“Funny, he seems a bit like a used hovercraft dealer to me, too,” she replied.

A holographic projection of Element Lad appeared before them. The team leader spoke with his normal mixture of reserve and consideration. “I need you both to join a team heading out to Asteroid 73Q,” said Jan Arrah. “The mining colony there is under attack.”

Vi smiled. “Good. I could use the exercise!”

Gim frowned as he followed her out. She was so driven to perfect her fighting skills, since her abduction had left her in need of increased feelings of security and self-reliance. She had changed from the Shy Vi of the past to a more aggressive and harder young woman. Gim remembered how demure she had been when they had first met. He wondered if this change was a good one or not. Either way, there was no going back.

***

Aboard the sleek Legion Cruiser, Gim and Salu joined their partners as Ultra Boy piloted the craft in the direction of the isolated mining colony called Asteroid 73Q. Jo Nah grinned as he saw the others. “I know. You guys are sitting there wondering if the kid from Rimbor is going to pilot this ship right into a space monster or something!”

His girlfriend Phantom Girl smiled as she sat by his side. “Well, Jo, you did do exactly that in the accident which first gave you your powers!” said Tinya Wazzo.

Jo smiled back at the pretty, dark-haired girl. “Tinya, nobody likes a sarcastic copilot. Of course, since you are the woman I love, I’ll just have to put up with your barbs.”

The hulking rock-man called Blok sat uneasily in a special chair and leaned over to whisper to Shrinking Violet. “I have only now begun to understand the nature of human banter. I rather like it, although the nuances sometimes escape me.”

Shrinking Violet, now wearing her light green minidress, crossed her legs and rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Blok, you’d think there was some deep meaning behind it all. It’s just hyper sweet couple talk!” she said with a smile.

A small silvery craft hovered above them. The tiny yet mysterious being called Quislet could not leave his ship for long. His power allowed him to possess and manipulate inanimate matter for a brief time before the transformation led to the sudden decay and destruction of whatever object he took over. His home craft was the exception to this rule. He relished being a Legionnaire, and his high-pitched voice hummed out of the craft’s speakers. “All human chat fun to Quislet! Cheer up, gorgeous!” he said as he hovered near the chair in which the sultry Nura Nal lounged with both feet across one arm.

Dream Girl sighed in exaggerated sorrow. “Quislet, it’s easy for you to be so happy,” she sighed. “You are secure in your craft or the objects you possess. I’m going to be out in the open on that dirty mining colony, and I just know the silt and dust will ruin my hair and makeup!”

Ultra Boy laughed abruptly before a gentle touch from Phantom Girl silenced him. “Nura, you could just wear your trans-suit the whole time we’re there,” he said.

Dream Girl sniffed disdainfully. She still carried some irritation at the way Ultra Boy had once resigned as deputy leader of the team because he did not want to serve under her.

“We should reach the Asteroid Archipelago any moment now,” said Phantom Girl. “We’ve just passed the Science Asteroid.”

Ultra Boy glanced at a visi-screen. “My pentra-vision can see through lead or any other kind of barrier, other than inertron. I see the source of the distress signal from the miners. They are under attack from space pirates!”

Phantom Girl frowned. She recalled the time Ultra Boy had briefly believed himself to be one such space pirate during a bout of amnesia. He had also been the object of desire for one shapely space pirate named Captain Alisia Frake during that case. (*) She had died during the battle, but her type of roguish space-traveling robber was all too common a threat to the space lanes of the more remote regions of United Planets space.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Exaggerated Death of Ultra Boy,” Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #274 (April, 1981) and “Of Pride, Passion, and Piracy,” Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #275 (May, 1981).]

Dream Girl sat up suddenly. She placed one well-manicured hand against her brow.

“What is it, Dreamy? Did you get some flash of the future?” asked Colossal Boy.

Dream Girl nodded rapidly. “Yes! This may seem like nothing more than a typical case of space theft, but I see it somehow leads to the possibility of an enslaved Earth!”

Shrinking Violet tried to shake off her comely teammate’s words of warning, since she knew that Nura’s visions, while accurate in nature, could often have many divergent meanings. The death of a figure in a dream could refer to the loss of an android or impostor who mimicked the original’s form. In similar ways Dream Girl’s visions could foretell different eventualities beyond what appeared to be the surface meaning of a dream. Still, even Salu’s newly steely resolve could bend a bit when faced with such words of doom.

“Well, let’s get down there and make this vision nothing more than a bad dream, like Nura’s getting a run in her sheerites,” she said.

Quislet zoomed around the cabin of the cruiser. “Quislet will protect you, pretty one!”

Blok rumbled in dismay. “I fear Dream Girl has an uncanny level of accurate visions. Her sister Mysa has shared this much with me.”

Ultra Boy piloted the craft down to where they could see a vaguely avian-styled ship blasting away at the mining community settled within the almost hallowed hull of the cluster of rocky asteroids designated 73Q. “Pirate ships, no doubt about it,” he said. “They get a real charge out of building their spacecraft with fancy shapes like old vessels from legend and myth.”

“I’m more of a fan of the ancient mystery stories, so forgive me if pirate lore bores me,” said Shrinking Violet. She reduced herself to doll size and led the others out of their ship and down to the mining colony. Like the other Legionnaires, she flew via means of her Legion flight ring. She waited as Ultra Boy shifted his ultra energy to strength as he ripped a photon cannon off the hull of the pirate ship and smashed a hole in the hull with the broken remains. Vi entered through the new opening and soared across the cabin of the pirate ship unseen.

Super-strong figures like Ultra Boy, the now giant-sized Colossal Boy and Blok attracted the crew’s attention while the tiny Violet entered a control panel and deftly ripped out wiring with the practiced eye of one who had done such work before. They can’t do any harm if their weapons system is deactivated from within, she thought.

She grew to normal size and slugged a purple-skinned pirate in his bulbous chin. “Nothing like hands-on action!” she said with a grin.

Blok ignored the barrage of blaster fire that struck his rocky form as he loomed over a group of pirates and drew ever closer. “This is futile,” he said in his rumbling voice. “You should surrender now.”

A pirate with three arms snatched futilely at Phantom Girl, who posed defiantly and allowed him to fall through her insubstantial body. She spun around to trip another rogue, and she danced agilely above a third’s efforts to tackle her legs.

She landed with a thud and left him dazed. “See, that’s the catch. I can be solid when I want to be, but then, you found that out, didn’t you?” she said with a girlish laugh.

Colossal Boy reached one massive arm across the cabin and pinned reinforcements against the wall. “You may have imagined this to be a simple chance to get away with the rare minerals and other resources the miners salvage from the asteroids, but it ended badly when you crossed the Legion!” he said firmly.

Quislet suddenly darted at top speed in and out of the drawn blasters of around ten other pirates. They all gasped in shock as their weapons fell apart in rapid succession. “Quislet got the drop on you!” chirped the eager Legionnaire.

Meanwhile, Ultra Boy barked out a command. “All of you surrender now! We don’t want to get rough with you, but believe me, we can!”

An old Venusian snarled and said, “Aye? You may frighten those terra-lubbers, but our captain is more than a match for you!”

“Really?” said Ultra Boy. “Well, let’s meet him!”

Phantom Girl inhaled sharply as a lithe woman with black curly hair entered from a private cabin above. “Well, unless your penetra-vision is overrated, I’d say you now see that I’m the captain, but in no way am I a male!” she chuckled.

Ultra Boy gasped. “Captain Frake? It can’t be.”

The pirate leader smiled defiantly. “I am Captain Frake, but not the one you killed. Alisia was my sister. I am Aranda Frake.”

Phantom Girl swooped down to face her. “We didn’t kill your sister,” she said. “She died when her own weapon systems exploded.”

Colossal Boy continued to keep the remaining pirates pinned by his mass as he added, “The Legion has a code against killing.”

Captain Frake sneered in contempt. “Bah! You did cost my sister her life, and for that I’ll gladly see you all die!” She ran to a control panel and reached for a switch. “This will destroy our ship, but it will be well worth it to make you pay!”

Before she could touch the destruct mechanism, it sparked, and a grinning face emerged from its altered composition. “Not while Quislet want to play more!” he taunted.

Frake gasped and hesitated long enough for Shrinking Violet to deliver a stunning right cross. Violet smiled and dusted both palms together in a gesture of dismissal. “Now I’d say case closed,” she said.

Ultra Boy nodded ruefully. “Right, but with this Captain Frake hating us for her sister’s death, I’d say the pain and loss from that old case is still hanging over us.”

Suddenly, their communicators beeped. “Ultra Boy, get down here fast!” cried Dream Girl.

He glanced down at the mining camp below. “By the great bird of the universe! Dreamy’s in trouble!” He rocketed away and burst through an office below to wrap Dream Girl in his arms as the rigged office suddenly exploded into flame. He carried her out and smothered the fire with a whirlwind of dirt. “Are you OK, Nura?” he asked with genuine concern.

She sighed as she wiped mud off her hair. “Yes, thanks to you,” said Nura Nal. “As we planned, I came down to check on the miners while you all stopped the pirates. I didn’t expect to find the whole attack was nothing more than a diversion. I realized that moments before the explosive hidden within the office activated.”

Ultra Boy nodded. “Good thing you received a prophetic flash and saw the bomb in time to summon me. So the pirates staged one big flashy attack from above while their allies made off with the already mined minerals below?”

Dream Girl smiled with the barest trace of smugness on her lovely features. “Wrong. They did not steal any minerals or ore from the mines,” she explained. “They took all of the special machines used to bore within the rocks.”

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