Legion of Super-Heroes: To Rule a World, Chapter 4: Journey to the Center of the Earth

by Libbylawrence

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While the blonde Saturn Girl was helping Blok aid the fallen heroes and restrain the captured pirates, her other fellow Legionnaires were waging an all-out war against nature gone mad. Imra Ardeen gestured to the huge display screens that lined the meeting room. “Our friends are hard-pressed to hold off the disasters,” she said. “Out west one team is dealing with the tidal waves and soil erosion.”

The screen showed the North American West Coast where Mon-El struggled to keep one huge section of Sanangelopis afloat, as part of the huge coastal city was eroding into the ocean. I can hold this all day, but we need to do something to buffer the eroded areas fast or, I’ll have nothing to place it on! he thought.

Shadow Lass flew down and carried a long coil of metallic cable in her flight path. She tossed it to Invisible Kid, who wrapped it around one support column and fought the tides as he tried to achieve some stability. “My thanks, Tasmia,” he said. “I am not much of a construction worker, I fear.”

The blue-hued beauty from Talok VII smiled and helped the young man tie off the column. “I also lack that kind of skill, but being a Legionnaire means you never know what type of duty you’ll get,” she said.

Mon-El called down to his girlfriend as his keen vision spotted a new figure swooping out of the sun. “We may have found the source of the problem, or perhaps help! I can’t believe it!” he said as he recognized the flying man.

Reflecto? But how? he thought. Reflecto was just a disguise Superboy briefly adopted while suffering from amnesia and other complications!

Still, Lar Gand of Daxam had super-vision of his own, and he could not mistake the golden costume and reddish hair of the young man who flew down and created a strong soil base upon which Lar could rest the community. “Thanks! How’d you do that? And who are you?” he asked as Shadow Lass and Invisible Kid joined him.

The new hero smiled warmly. “I am called Reflecto. As for how I restored the damaged foundation, let’s just call it magic!”

Mon-El frowned, as his keen senses detected no sign of either a mask or an artificial distorter. This powerful being really was a double for their old friend’s temporary identity.

“We appreciate the help,” said Shadow Lass as she extended one hand to greet Reflecto.

He kissed her hand gallantly and said, “No problem. Now, how else can I aid you?”

“We could use some help rescuing people below us,” said Mon-El. “That tide struck like it had lethal and deliberate intent to harm.”

***

They began to calm and aid those below as Saturn Girl and the others at base watched in relief. Another monitor screen showed a scene from across the globe at the remote resort spot called the Himalayas, where other heroes tried to free people buried beneath a cascading avalanche of snow.

Night Girl, Color Kid, Fire Lad, Infectious Lass, and Stone Boy labored with their own limited powers and limitless courage to free those trapped below. “You know, we may not be able to handle threats like Mordru, but we still have something to offer!” said Night Girl as she comforted an old woman.

Color Kid entertained some children with his own color-alteration power while the medical team treated their parents. He smiled broadly. “You’re right! I say we should re-form our team. Earth can always use heroes!” His friends cheered in approval and continued their labors.

***

Saturn Girl turned from that screen and said, “I agree that the Subs should re-form. They are doing a good job. Wildfire’s group is also encountering odd monsters in part of Europolis.” A third screen showed the neighborhood of Europolis called London, where Polar Boy froze a creature of mud and stone in his tracks while Wildfire blasted others to liquid.

“These things aren’t really alive — they’re walking mud-piles!” cried Drake Burroughs as he blasted dozens of the swarming things.

Dawnstar kicked another one aside as it menaced a couple. “Why state the obvious? We need to end their formation, not merely contain their progress,” said the Amerind heroine.

Polar Boy groaned as a beast of solid stone struck him from the rear. Wildfire knocked it off the edge of a looming crater and said, “Watch your back! This is the big time, not the Subs!”

Polar Boy rubbed his head ruefully. “Sorry! I won’t be careless again!”

***

Back at Legion Headquarters, the heroes stopped watching their friends in action in order to plan their strategy. Saturn Girl acted as leader, since Element Lad and Brainiac 5 were still away on their mission with Sensor Girl, White Witch, and Star Boy.

“We need Brainiac 5’s genius now more than ever,” said Blok.

Dream Girl frowned. “I am a scientist, too, you know. We know we recovered the stolen Carsons, and soil samples taken from them suggest that they were used recently on Earth and on a world whose soil I can’t identify as yet.”

“While we raided the pirate ship, the Emerald Empress had other pirates use the Carsons on Earth,” Phantom Girl said. “Where did they use them? Can you detect that much?”

Nura Nal sighed before saying, “The soil was from various places on Earth. She and that Eye could easily have teleported the machines and men anywhere with astonishing speed. Her Eye could even cloak such actions from us all — as it did.”

“What she did is less important than what we’ll do to stop her,” said Shrinking Violet. “Any ideas?”

“I just got a report from Element Lad and Brainiac 5,” said Colossal Boy. “They found out that Modo, the planet they went to investigate, lost all communications and transportation facilities due to a massive pirate attack by the Raptor before the ship came into Earth orbit. That was where the Emerald Empress had them use the Carsons. She took huge amounts of soil from the core of Modo and left the world unable to summon help or reveal what she had done. That blackout led Jan to investigate.”

Saturn Girl pursed her lips in thought. “That explains it all. Gim, call Labyrinth. See if a prisoner called Modulus escaped during the transfer of prisoners from Takron-Galtos to the new jail world.”

Dream Girl frowned. “You think it was the soil of Modo that was left on the Carsons with the Earth soil? That could be why I could not identify it. I never thought of that backwater world!”

Quislet chirped, “If a place lacks a mega-mall, Dreamy doesn’t care about it!”

Colossal Boy cut off a communicator and jumped to his feet. “Modulus! That clinches it! He is missing. I just got word from the warden. The odd thing was no one had noticed until now. I bet the Empress used her Eye to make everyone not notice Modulus’s absence all this time. Subtle but clever.”

Ultra Boy swooped inside. He had been fighting his own war to calm the raging world around them, and he was clearly tired. “Tinya, I’m fine,” he said. “Just worn out. More of those mud things are forming outside.”

“Blok, could you communicate with the earth creatures?” asked Saturn Girl. “They are partially silicon-based. I could mind-link you.”

“I shall try to do so, although I thought them mindless,” said Blok.

Saturn Girl smiled at the rocky hero. “They are, but their master’s mind may be the mind we find. He should be driving them.”

“I have read of the Modulus case,” Blok said. “He is the mind creating the disasters on Earth. He once ruled an entire world called Modo through a link he had with the very fabric of that planet’s basic matter. His merest thought could form monsters from the soil and rock, and he could create any number of natural disasters to defend himself. If the Empress took the Carsons and used them to seed our world with the soil from the planet Modo, then she could use Modulus’ power over that same matter to rule Earth.”

Saturn Girl led him outside and said, “That’s what I hope to prove.”

***

In an emergency session of the Earth president and his eight governors, the worried President Mojai Desai turned to the others and waved his arms in emotional stress. “What can we do?” he cried. “The Emerald Empress has proven herself to be more deadly apart from her Fatal Five allies than she was while working with Mano and the rest! Saturn Girl said the reason she assumed that male illusion disguise was to more easily control the pirates and to free herself from the stigma the defeats the Five had suffered in the past had created. She is in control of our world. She has somehow created quakes, tidal waves, avalanches, and an army of inhuman creatures to do her bidding. I ask you, how can we hope to defeat her?”

A dignified woman in red raised her hand to calm him. “President Desai, as the governor of Africa, I implore you to trust in the Legion of Super-Heroes,” she said. “They have never failed us before!” Others chimed in their agreement.

Desai wished his aide Vid-Gupta could have been invited to the session. He had come to depend upon the enigmatic man. “I will take no action until her twenty-four hours are up,” he said. “If the Legion can defeat her, by then all will be well. If they cannot, I will surrender in order to end the destruction.”

Outside the door of the meeting, Desai’s aide, the man calling himself Vid-Gupta, smiled coldly.

I did not take on this new identity and master the alleged president of Earth to allow the Emerald Empress to leave me as the puppet ruler of a world of rubble, he thought. If the Legion fails to stop her, then Universo will teach her the futility of opposing my will.

***

The young heroes emerged from their spacious headquarters to confront a group of the teaming creatures that shambled around with no purpose beyond a blind obedience to their master. Ultra Boy swept several up in the wake of a super-speed whirlwind and watched them shatter into their normal parts of rock and soil. “These things seem mindless. How can you use them in any way, Saturn Girl?” he asked.

Shrinking Violet shrank beneath the outspread arms of one creature, only to erupt from within his pliable form as she altered her size. She wiped the coat of mud off her face and dress in far less dismay than the ever-fastidious Dream Girl would have shown. “If Modulus is the mind ordering these things around as we have theorized he is, then Imra can read his mind through a link with their own minds — such as they are,” she said.

Blok held one such creature in his own powerful arms while the lithe Saturn Girl touched his brow and concentrated as only she could.

She smiled broadly. “I did it! Blok’s structure is close enough to that of these non-sentient beings of earth and rock for him to link my human mind with whatever passes for the bodily center of operations that allows them to be formed and controlled from afar by Modulus.”

Dream Girl watched from above. “So? Do you have a lead to where our foe is hiding?”

Colossal Boy stomped one mud creature flat and said, “Imra has the answer. I know that look on her face from old days!”

She nodded. “While the Empress protected her own mind when she teleported away so we could not trace her, she has done nothing to shield the mind of Modulus. I wager she has enslaved him.”

Shrinking Violet suddenly cut off the blonde from Titan. “I deduce that they are hiding in the abandoned base called Earthcore,” she said. “That research facility was closed way back during the wars, and while it has been neglected since then, it would still be perfect as a place in which she could keep Modulus and allow him to remain close in touch with the earth he manipulates.”

Saturn Girl nodded in agreement. “What little I could see from his enslaved thoughts makes me believe Violet is correct. Nicely thought out, Salu.”

Phantom Girl and Quislet emerged from the headquarters, and Tinya looked at the others expectantly. “Well? Any luck?” she asked.

“Yes,” Saturn Girl said. “Get ready for a journey to the center of the Earth!”

***

Later, the team crashed into a large base that had been built long before near the center of the earth. Although the base had been abandoned, the artificial atmosphere that had once allowed researchers to live safely within the structure had been reactivated. Phantom Girl passed effortlessly through the walls at top speed and gasped as she saw their enemies.

The Emerald Empress rested upon a throne while her gleaming Eye of Ekron hovered overhead. “Well, well, well! What have we here? A Legionnaire!” cooed the Empress in a mocking manner.

Phantom Girl remained in her ghostlike state as the weird Eye turned and watched her with an eerie awareness. “I’m not alone. Your little scheme to rule the world has failed!” vowed Tinya.

The Emerald Empress uncrossed her legs and folded her hands together in a restful manner. “Really?” she asked. “Do tell us how you plan to stop us.”

Ultra Boy suddenly burst through the floor and said, “I took the long way around, lady! You can’t win now!”

She gestured in an idle manner, and the green eye blasted him across the room. “The arrogance of a strong man — how it amuses us!” laughed the green-haired beauty.

Jo Nah’s other friends rushed inside well. Gim Allon punched out at the gleaming Eye of Ekron and missed its hovering form by inches. “I’ll shut that eye for good!” he said, reeling aside and reducing his size to normal as emerald fire surged out of the orb, narrowly missing his head.

Blok moved forward to block the energy from his friends as Ultra Boy peeled a sheet of metal from the wall and wrapped it around the eye. Won’t hold that thing for long, but then, I don’t need too long! he thought.

The Emerald Empress laughed a throaty chuckle and stood up almost languidly. She clearly had little fear of the heroes or their impressive array of powers. “We are currently the ruler of this world,” she said. “We truly need no surrender from your President Desai to make what is truly the current state of affairs a reality. Modulus, produce an army for your mistress.”

Phantom Girl gasped as she noticed a rigid male figure sitting in a chair in one shadowy corner. He was bound to that seat, and his expression was one of vacant but pitiful helplessness. Tinya recognized him as Modulus of Modo. His eyes flickered slightly as the rock and dirt around the base shuddered, and humanoid beings began to rise from the very soil exposed when Ultra Boy ripped down one metal sheet.

Saturn Girl concentrated while the others stood in a circle around her and held back their foes. She reached the mind of Modulus and slowly broke the hold the Emerald Empress had upon him.

He groaned, then smiled coldly. “Free! Now I shall teach her who truly rules this world!” he cried. “She raped my homeland with her tools. She cared nothing for the psychic pain that act inflicted upon me. Now she shall suffer!” The chamber shook as rock surged through the walls and separated the heroes and their foes.

“Ultra Boy, Blok, Colossal Boy — keep us from being crushed! Phantom Girl, Violet, and Dreamy, help me stop Modulus and the Empress!” cried Saturn Girl in her old tone of leadership.

Instantly, Quislet entered the metal of the base and became a humanoid being who fought to hold back the tide of rock that surged around them. His bodies soon crumbled, but every moment aided the efforts of Ultra Boy, Blok, and Colossal Boy as they fought to keep their friends from being crushed.

Shrinking Violet, Phantom Girl, Dream Girl, and Saturn Girl moved agilely through the sea of stone to confront the battling pair beyond the twisted metal and stone.

The Emerald Empress was desperately blasting away at Modulus, who screamed at her and used his control of the world to threaten her.

While Phantom Girl and Saturn Girl distracted them, Shrinking Violet and Dream Girl attacked. Violet had come prepared for what she had to do. She wore a miniature device across her face, and as she shrank down to microscopic size, it enabled her to breathe more easily. She entered the body of Modulus and braced herself within one particular spot. She struggled to block the flow of blood, and moments later, as she departed from his body, Modulus collapsed in a faint.

Thank goodness that’s over! she thought. I hate that stunt. It’s a bit ruthless for me.

With the defeat of Modulus, all of the creatures and quakes stopped. Shrinking Violet had liberated Earth. Saturn Girl rushed over to touch the fallen man’s temples. She nodded readily to Phantom Girl. “He’ll be OK. We’ll ship him back to Labyrinth before he wakes up. He’ll be locked up long after we rid Earth of the soil from Modo. The White Witch should be able to separate the mixed soils by her spell of dissimilarity.”

Phantom Girl smiled in relief. She frowned as a scream from the Emerald Empress rang out. They turned to see Dream Girl standing confidently over a frightened Empress. The Eye itself hovered above but made no movement without the command of its mistress.

Dream Girl smirked as she said, “Seems like Modulus did our job for us. She was beaten before I touched her. Just as well; I’d hate to break a nail.”

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