“What should we do?” the White Witch asked her fellow Legionnaires as they fled from Brande’s Asteroid. “Our original quest for Garridan has stalled, since we have been trapped in this strange reality in which things we thought to be certainties have withered away or been altered in extremes beyond any expectation.”
“The Time Trapper lured us into the time stream,” insisted Saturn Girl. “He took Garridan for that purpose, just as he took Graym before. I feel that as if it was a known fact. I think it was his mind I sensed when we first got here. He brought us here to get revenge for his past defeats.”
“He’s a renegade being dedicated to reordering the universe as he sees fit,” said Lightning Lad. “The Time Trapper who had been imprisoned on Takron-Galtos was one of a race called Controllers, but it turns out he was just an agent of the real deal; we know that much now. The real Time Trapper has awesome powers, and he uses them for his own agenda. None of us has ever been able to learn very much more about him.”
“We know that certain laws of time travel seem to no longer apply,” said Blok. “Is that because of the Crisis or the Time Trapper’s own power?”
The White Witch chanted slowly, and the others waited in expectation. She had not revealed what she was trying to do, since she hated to raise their hopes for no good reason. She concentrated and raised her arms as her spell took form. Mystical energies flashed, but when they faded, nothing had changed. “By Zerox! I tried to use a spell of similarity to take us directly to the chronal energy that took Garridan, but nothing happened. That means I failed,” she said sadly.
“Perhaps it did not fail,” suggested Blok. “Perhaps your spell could not work, since chronal energies are not responsible for our plight.”
Saturn Girl nodded slowly. “Blok, I think you have a point. If all that had occurred had been consistent with what we know of time travel, then I’d believe the Time Trapper had pulled our time bubble into one of many possible divergent futures, like the one from which the adult Legion of Super-Villains came. If that was true, then some of us would be immaterial.”
“No offense, Imra, but you’ve hammered that point into the ground already,” said Timber Wolf. “With a creep like the Trapper, all rules are off!”
“Hold it, Brin!” said Lightning Lass. “I think I see what they’re getting at here. Perhaps we’re not in a different timeline from our own, but in something like a pocket of time the Time Trapper has separated from known time and space, but which runs parallel to real time. He’s shaped this pocket universe to suit his own whims, and he built it to trap us all! In this warped version of history within this pocket dimension, Superboy never existed! I suppose that was his idea of revenge for all the times Superboy has been so instrumental in beating him!”
“That makes sense, I guess,” said Superboy. “I mean, how else could so many things be different from normal time travel?”
“Normal time travel! That’s a real contradiction in terms!” said Timber Wolf.
“That would explain why a spell designed to bring similar energies together failed!” shouted Saturn Girl. “We’re cut off from the universe in which we lived and in which Garridan was stolen! You won’t get away with this! Do you hear me, Trapper? I will get my child back!”
Lightning Lad embraced her and said, “Easy, Imra! We’ve got to think clearly. We need help here. I suggest we find our pals. Some Legionnaires must still exist here. He didn’t kill off all of them. It suited his perverse mind to alter them or torment them in other ways.”
“Well, we know our counterparts are on Winath,” said Ayla Ranzz.
Saturn Girl shook her head. “We can’t go there. That’s too obvious, and I rather feel reluctant to see what has become of us in this nightmare realm!”
Reep Daggle began to explain the fates of the Legionnaires in this pocket universe. “Ultra Boy became a Silverale smuggler after Tinya’s death. Sun Boy sold out. He became a media pitchman for the new regime. Dirk came from money, and I suppose he couldn’t resist the allure of continued wealth. His father’s own fortune was lost during speculation on the Braal-Imsk War. We can’t trust him. Colossal Boy left Earth and rejoined the Science Police. I think he is stationed on Mars now. Element Lad went back to Trom. If all else fails, we could seek sanctuary on Orando. Jeckie returned it to its proper dimensional space and resumed her role as queen when the Legion disbanded.”
“What happened to my counterpart here and to my sister?” asked Mysa.
“Well, Nura became High Seer of Naltor, and you returned to Zerox,” said Reep. “You married the reformed Mordru.”
The White Witch gasped. “Mordru? He reformed? He and I became a couple?!”
“What madness dominates this world!” said Blok.
“It is funny you should say dominates, since I’ve long suspected that President Tayla Wellington is a secret agent for the Dominion,” said Reep. “They are the true power behind her regime!”
“Look!” said Superboy. “The isle is directly below us, and it is decidedly occupied!” He gestured to a small cluster of huts and a few colorful figures who stood outside of them, preparing to defend their hidden base.
Saturn Girl sighed with relief. “We’re safe! From what I sensed, that small band below us comprise the Resistance!”
Lightning Lass leaned forward and peered down over Superboy’s shoulders. She nodded eagerly. “We know them, too. What an odd combination!” she said.
“I’ve mentally alerted them that we are friends,” said Saturn Girl. “They will let us land!”
As the skimmer landed, the Legionnaires emerged and greeted the brave band of freedom fighters called the Resistance. The group’s leader was a familiar black man with a keen eye and a welcoming smile. “Invisible Kid! Good to see you!” cried Lightning Lad as he shook hands with the young man.
“Garth! You are well! That pleases me greatly,” said Jacques Foccart, glancing around at each Legionnaire. “Have you all come to join us? We have need of your powers and experience, though we do not use our old code names any longer.”
“I don’t suppose any of you recall me,” said Superboy. “I guess it’s simpler just to say I’m Superboy, and I’m a friend!”
A man with a green hat and a gaunt appearance said, “If you intend to help us, then you are indeed welcome by any name! Saturn Girl’s mental message explained as much.”
“Believe me, we are on your side,” said Superboy. “We’ve even met before, although you can’t remember it. You’re Calamity King. You once tried out for Legion membership!”
“No one has called me Calamity King for a long time now,” said the man, nodding in agreement. “I tried out years ago and was rejected, since my control over my disaster-generating powers was limited. (*) I finally gained membership shortly before the team disbanded. The name’s Davis Ester.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Legionnaire Who Killed,” Adventure Comics #342 (March, 1966) and “The Evil Hand of the Luck Lords,” Adventure Comics #343 (April, 1966).]
Lightning Lad gestured to a man who wore old-fashioned glasses and a gold costume. “Myke Chypurz — Storm Boy! I heard you went to work for the weather-control bureau. I guess you finished college and everything.”
Mike shrugged. “I don’t like to talk about my college days. I prefer to think that I put those days behind me. I’m a Legionnaire now, in spite of the fact that, when I first tried out for the team, I was unfairly brutalized and roughed up and rudely dismissed, merely because my powers of weather-control are not natural but come from a device.”
Lightning Lass stifled a laugh as she whispered to Mysa Nal, “He tried to join the team to gain membership in a college fraternity. When his lack of a true power was revealed, Triplicate Girl threw him out rather roughly. He apparently received a great deal of teasing about the whole stunt.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Secret Origin of Bouncing Boy,” Adventure Comics #301 (October, 1962).]
The other two Resistance members approached slowly. One was known to the Legionnaires for his loyal service in their own Legion of Substitute Heroes. His name was Dag Wentim, and he was once known as Stone Boy. He nodded his welcome but remained quiet. The final member was also silent, but he glared at the others with a look of distrust.
“Tyroc, why are you so sullen?” asked Saturn Girl. “We parted on good terms when you left the team, because your home of Marzal was leaving our dimension.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Brigadoon Syndrome,” Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #264 (July, 1980).]
“I’m not Tyroc anymore — my name is Troy Stewart,” he said. “You and your Legion never truly accepted me. You stood by while the Earthgov attacked my homeland when it was abruptly brought back here. My people died, and my good friends did nothing to help me!”
“Troy, I’m sorry,” said Lightning Lad. “I don’t know what to say.”
Saturn Girl stepped forward and concentrated. The Resistance members gasped as she swiftly mentally broadcast the exact circumstances of their journey through the time and space.
“You’re not our Imra?” asked Dag. “You seem so much like her! This is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced!”
“Look, lady,” said Troy, “you may be from some other realm, but you have to earn my trust, and believe me — that’s not going to be easy!”
“My friends, you must forgive Troy,” said Jacques. “He has suffered more than most, but not as much as some.” He gestured to where a huge, furry creature was clawing at a small meal.
The beast looked up with eyes that seemed human as he stared at them all, dividing his attention between Ayla Ranzz and Brin Londo. “What is that?” asked Ayla.
“I should have told you before,” said Reep. “That is Furball. He’s Timber Wolf. The Timber Wolf we know was changed into that form when he absorbed radiation during the battle with Dr. Regulus that killed Wildfire.”
Brin gasped and said, “That’s me? This proves this is some pocket dimension and not a true alternate timeline!”
Ayla stepped forward and gently placed one hand on the furry beast’s head. It stared up at her with expressive eyes and drew closer. Poor Brin! she thought.
Timber Wolf stared at the creature and shuddered. “I can’t end up like that! This is a real nightmare. I thought I was a crummy android for years, but that was nothing compared to being trapped in an animal’s body!”
Ayla turned to Brin and said, “Brin, please forgive me for the fight we had! When I see how terrible our lives could become, I feel so stupid about how I acted! I love you, and the way you proposed doesn’t matter!”
Brin kissed her and said, “Ayla, if we get back home, I’ll do things right! Just wait and see!”
Meanwhile, Blok said, “Troy, I have read of your powers. Could you apply them to our problem? We know that the limits of how your sonic screams can alter reality around you were never fully measured. Could you help us escape this realm and confront the Time Trapper? We must face him in order to be free! If he is dealt with, then perhaps so much that plagues this world will be resolved!”
Superboy frowned as he thought, That is what we need to do, but I think the opposite might happen. If the Time Trapper is beaten, then this odd pocket dimension of his creation may cease to exist!
“I have a world to free,” said Troy. “I can’t waste time on your personal problems!”
Lightning Lad grabbed the proud Troy Stewart and said, “Now, hold on a minute, you self-righteous–!”
Imra Ranzz stepped forward and placed one hand on her husband and one on Troy. She concentrated and conveyed to the former Tyroc all of the pain she and Garth were feeling because of the loss of Garridan.
Shaking himself free, Troy said, “You have a real dramatic way to win an argument. I’m sorry. I guess my own anger blinded me to what you were feeling. I’ll help you. I sure don’t want anyone else to feel the loss I feel!”
“Mysa, can you do anything to direct the effect Tyroc’s sonic cries have?” asked Saturn Girl. “If we can all focus our intent and you can help him, we might reach the Trapper.”
They all joined hands, and Imra gently touched each mind. She linked them all in a mental communion as White Witch whispered arcane words, and the former Legionnaire called Tyroc raised his head and screamed.
The world flickered around them, and they found themselves in a barren wasteland without any life or any structures with the exception of one stark palace.
Ayla gasped and said, “Where are we? This looks like the aftermath of some terrible war!”
Timber Wolf slipped his arm around her waist and said, “Yeah! This looks like the end of the world!”
Lightning Lad shook his head. “No. More like the end of time itself! I think this is the Time Trapper’s own domain!”