Back on Earth, Thom Kallor frowned in concern as Nura Nal emerged from her quarters at Legion Headquarters. “Nura, honey, are you feeling any better?” he asked. “You look sensational!”
The platinum blonde from Naltor shook her head in irritation. “Don’t state the obvious, Thom. I know I look sensational. I just wish I felt as good as I look. My stomach has not stopped churning since this morning. I do feel better, though.”
He smiled and said, “I guess you picked up some bug. I could call Dr. Gym’ll.”
Dream Girl kissed him and said, “No need for you call our physician. I get so tired of his constant chatter about his billing process. Superficial people bore me.”
At that moment, Element Lad’s holographic image appeared to give out orders. “Thom, I need you to join a few of us to investigate a total communications and transportation blackout on a U.P. member planet,” he said. “A world doesn’t just lose all connections with the outside like that without something serious or sinister behind it.”
Thom replied, “Right! Nura, will you be OK without me? Jan seems to want you to remain here.”
“I’m all grown up, as you can see,” said Nura. “You go on and just think of our eventual reunion.” He hurried away, leaving her alone in the hall. Suddenly, she stiffened as a jolt of pain creased her brow. “The headaches again! Maybe I will need the doctor,” she sighed.
Meanwhile, that evening found a weary Dirk Morgna returning to his apartment after a busy day helping the Science Police round up a few organ thieves. He was glad that his father’s wealth allowed him to enjoy luxurious and private rooms away from Legion Headquarters for those occasions when he wanted to be apart from the team.
Entering, he tossed his shirt to a servo-droid, who steamed and cleaned it in seconds. He smiled as he reached for a robe, only to stop as he detected the presence of another person in the room. “Who’s there?” he asked. “How’d somebody get in past my security codes?”
Shrinking Violet suddenly grew to normal size and lounged across a divan in an appealing manner. “Oh, it took someone with my experience in espionage to get inside,” she said. “You aren’t getting your money’s worth from the security people, Dirk.”
“Violet?” he said with a look of surprise.
She smiled invitingly and gestured to beckon him closer. “Shh! It’s just Salu and Dirk tonight. No code-names… no costumes,” she said.
He smiled broadly and drew closer to take her in his arms. She closed her eyes and raised her lips for a kiss, when she heard a choking sound.
Dirk clutched his stomach and rushed from the room. “Sorry! Sick! Got to go!” he gasped.
She heard the normal sounds associated with such bouts of sickness and frowned in concern. “Dirk? Are you OK?” she asked.
He called out to her in a weak tone, “Stomach virus, I guess. I’m sorry. I guess you better go. I’ll be fine in the morning.”
Shrinking Violet reluctantly drew a filmy wrap around her shoulders and slipped on a pair of heels. “Right. I hope you feel better!” she said as she stomped out of the room. She was not mad at Dirk, but she did feel as if even the manic gambling crowd on Ventura would not take odds that her love life would ever get any better. She sighed as the door slid shut behind her. “Salu, I think when it comes to men, you’re under a curse or something!”
She didn’t notice that a man watched her from afar. He saw everything, although he was blocks away. Hated to do that to Morgna, he thought. He’s not that bad a fellow. Still, I can’t let him take Violet away from me. I thought impersonating him at the club the other night would drive Violet back to me, but instead she decided to go after him more strongly than before! No matter; sooner or later, I’ll get what I want!
Several days later, Dream Girl was strolling through Legion Headquarters when the holographic image of Element Lad popped into view. “Dreamy, you need to join the others,” said the Legion leader. “Gigi just picked up the Raptor‘s flight path. It’s entering space near Earth orbit now. The pirate ship has been disguised via various technical methods, but she still matched it with the data she had gathered earlier regarding size, speed, radio frequency, and approximate crew size and demographic scans.”
She sighed deeply before flying swiftly to join her friends as they prepared to assault the pirate ship in Earth orbit.
Blok, Quislet, Colossal Boy, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, and Shrinking Violet were already aboard the Legion Cruiser. “Quislet glad you’re better, lovely one!” chirped the new Legionnaire from within his hovering craft.
Dream Girl blew him a kiss and settled into a flight chair. “Thanks. Now, let’s capture those pirates so I can get my beauty sleep,” she said with a wry smile.
Blok spoke softly to Phantom Girl, “I do not understand how Mysa can be so caring and thoughtful, while her sister Nura is so shallow.”
Tinya Wazzo smiled and patted his rocky arm. “Nura pretends to be shallow. She enjoys that role, but she really has hidden depths.”
Blok nodded. “Perhaps I will someday grasp the nuances of human relations.”
Colossal Boy was grim. He wanted to bring in these pirates swiftly. He was practical to a fault, but he knew Dream Girl’s vision that in some manner these pirates could lead to a threat to Earth’s very freedom was likely to be accurate, and this concerned him.
Shrinking Violet looked equally grim as she pondered her conflicting feelings for Sun Boy. She had wanted to confront him over his secret date with Gigi Cusimano, but she had refrained from saying anything as yet. She wondered if a more satisfying response would be to win him over from the cop and then dump him.
Ultra Boy called out as they drew closer to a large ship. “That’s the Raptor,” he said. “No distorter can fool me for long. I know ships, and that’s a pirate craft.”
“This may be more important than boarding it,” said Saturn Girl. “Red alerts from below just filled the monitor screen!”
She opened the com-link to broadcast Sun Boy’s voice from below. “We’re experiencing massive disruptions across the globe!” he said. “Earthquakes, floods, weird creatures on the move. It’s like a bad holo-flick.”
“Did the start of the disasters coincide with the arrival of the Raptor?” asked Saturn Girl. “Do you detect any type of energy broadcast from the pirate ship to Earth that could be the source of these disasters?”
Sun Boy shook his head. “Nothing is being broadcast, although I would say the timing matched perfectly. The Raptor came into view, and the board lit up seconds later. Imra, I’d say you’re right about this not being coincidental. I suggest you board the Raptor while we try to bring order to things down here.”
“This proves my vision was accurate,” said Dream Girl. “The pirates are threatening Earth’s very security!”
Shrinking Violet jumped to her feet. “We agree. Now, let’s stop them before they wreck the planet!” The Legion worked together with amazing efficiency and teamwork. In seconds, they had fought their way aboard the Raptor.
Phantom Girl had easily slipped inside the pirate ship in insubstantial form and had deactivated all protective shields long enough for Ultra Boy to smash into the hull with ultra-strength and then shatter the shields. He even managed to switch his energies back to invulnerability before any of the rogues could hit him with blaster fire.
Now, Colossal Boy grew larger and scattered the crew with one sweep of a massive arm. Blok blocked the intensive fire from handheld blasters with his rocky form as Quislet gleefully animated one pilot chair into a humanoid form and slammed into other pirates. “Pirates give up! Quislet now is here!” he chirped.
Saturn Girl high-kicked a green-skinned thug to the deck as Shrinking Violet punched a second one with stunning force as she grew to normal size directly below his chin.
Dream Girl waited for a moment before flying across the deck to disarm a massive rocky-skinned pirate who stared out at her from four eyes. “A girl can’t blame you for staring, but still, you should really keep your mind on business, dear,” she joked as she knocked his weapon across the cabin.
Saturn Girl spoke swiftly via her natural telepathy and their earplugs to warn them of new developments. “I sense their leader is within that large cabin!” she announced. “They fear him more than death itself!”
Ultra Boy turned and glanced in the direction of the cabin with his penetra-vision. He ducked a punch from a pirate and knocked him backward with normal strength. Jo Nah was very capable even without his energy powers. “I see him, all right,” he said. “Same bald guy from the memories Saturn Girl pulled from Frake’s crew.”
“Let’s pay our mystery-man a visit!” said Phantom Girl, stepping through the walls of the cabin while the others followed.
“Blok and Quislet, keep an eye on things out here while we beard the lion in his den, so to speak!” said Ultra Boy.
Quislet spoke from within his craft as a control panel exploded after his exit from within its structure. “Don’t be too slow. Quislet wants more fun!” he said. Blok merely rumbled his agreement.
Dream Girl, Shrinking Violet, Ultra Boy, Saturn Girl, and Colossal Boy forced their way inside the luxurious cabin and faced a bald man who sat upon a throne. “We welcome you at last,” he said. “You were expected, although I must say you arrived quicker than even we had expected.”
Shrinking Violet stepped forward to confront him. “We will make this brief, so even a thug who only knows the beginnings of Interlac can get it. Surrender now, or we’ll force you to do so, and we won’t be gentle!”
The bald man laughed in defiance. “My, my!” he said. “How this petite little pretty roars!”
“Just who are you?” demanded Ultra Boy. “How are you causing the disasters below?”
A suddenly explosion of green energy swept the room and left the heroes stunned. The powerful blast had covered the entire room, although no source for the fiery power could be detected.
Phantom Girl gasped and turned solid even as Saturn Girl crawled to her hands and knees. Imra Ardeen had been behind the others and hadn’t received as much force from the blast. “Tinya, I sense her true thoughts!” said Saturn Girl as Phantom Girl rushed her to help her to her feet. “The reason we could not recognize the bald leader was because he was just a mental illusion hypnotically placed in the minds of all who looked at her. She hid her weapon the same way!”
“‘Her’? What are you saying? The leader is a woman?” asked Tinya.
A flash of green fire from a suddenly visible hovering orb removed the illusion to reveal a strikingly beautiful woman in a fancy cloak and ornate green and white costume. Her hair was also green, as was the heavily applied makeup she wore on her eyes and lips. “Not just a woman, you dolt! I am the ever-deadly Emerald Empress!” she said with a sultry laugh.
“You posed as a male to conceal your identity from the pirates you used,” said Saturn Girl. “Why did you steal the Carsons?”
The Emerald Empress ran one hand through her long hair and smiled coldly. “Why? The better to rule your pitiful world, my dear,” she said. “We are the power behind the perils that plague yon globe. Either Earth’s president will surrender all power to us, or we will burn this world to a charred orb with far less beauty than my pet Eye!”
Saturn Girl saw the stunned bodies of her friends even as Blok and Quislet rushed into the room.
“Saturn Girl, we could not remain outside after hearing that explosive blast!” said Blok.
Saturn Girl waved Blok back with a swift gesture. “Wait! This is her turn. She holds all the chips, as they say on Ventura!”
Phantom Girl tried to revive Ultra Boy and the others, but only Colossal Boy stirred. “What happened? Not her!” shouted Gim Allon as he forced himself to grow larger.
The Emerald Empress purposefully glanced up and down at his muscled form. “You are a big boy!” she said. “We may have been remiss in showering our past attentions upon Superboy!”
The hovering eye flashed to generate a painful blast of power that shook Gim badly as he gritted his teeth and grew larger. Shattering the hold won’t matter. We’ve got trans-suits, and the pirates are in sealed off chambers beyond, he thought. As he broke through the cabin roof, he stopped short of breaking through the outer rim of the craft, since the green fire finally caused even his larger form to collapse in pain.
“Ha-ha-ha! Is there not an Earth truism about the more massive one’s girth, the more severe one’s eventual descent?” asked the Empress.
Blok caught Gim’s falling body and lowered it gently to the floor like a twentieth-century lumberjack with a falling tree. Quislet swooped low and said, “I’ll take care of that big green looker!”
“No!” warned Saturn Girl, even as he entered the hovering orb and screamed seconds after being forced back within his craft.
“The Eye is alive as well! Your powers have no use against my pretty!” taunted the Emerald Empress.
Phantom Girl dived for the mocking woman and tried to solidify herself within her foe’s body. She fell in pain as the emerald energy swept over her.
“I do not need to tell you that my body is not where you perceive it to be,” she said. “The Eye conceals all!”
“I can stand no more!” said Blok. “My friends will not be hurt by you again!” He moved forward and clutched for the lithe woman in green.
“She’s not there,” said Saturn Girl. “In fact, she just teleported away!” She was correct as usual, although it was her probing mind that alerted her to this fact and not her vision, which had been duped as well as the eyes and ears of her friends.
Blok frowned as the image of the Emerald Empress vanished. Her mocking voice echoed after she disappeared.
“You have the Raptor,” she said. “I need it no longer. Earth shall be my new throne. Twenty-four hours and no more. Tell your president that I shall expect surrender of his world to me by that time, or I’ll bring it down around him in rubble and ruin!”
Saturn Girl gazed up at Blok and said, “And I fear she can do it, too! We’d better turn in these pirates and form a plan fast!”