Metropolis Spaceport: the majestic cargo and passenger facility was justly celebrated across the galaxy as the point of arrival or departure for an endless variety of crafts and visitors. On one particular morning, amongst the crowd of anxious people awaiting the arrival of special visitors, stood the rugged, brown-haired Legionnaire known as Colossal Boy. Gim Allon was no stranger to the port, since he had departed from it years ago as a student heading for the Science Police Academy on Mars. He shook his head and smiled as he recalled how much had changed in his life since he had been an eager pupil heading for a career with the United Planets peacekeeping organization.
It was during a break from his studies that young Gim had been the victim of a bizarre accident. He had been struck by a meteor fragment and had inhaled an odd vapor that had wafted out of the shattered space rock. The strange gas altered his genetic structure and gave him the superhuman ability to increase his size to gigantic proportions and then return to his original size. This alteration in size was accompanied by an enhancement of his raw strength as well. While such a flamboyant power seemed oddly inappropriate for a generally conservative and rather ordinary young man, he had accepted his destiny and made successful use of his new abilities as a member of the famous Legion of Super-Heroes.
The Science Police don’t need an officer with my kind of powers, he had mused long ago. It’s funny how things worked out. While gaining those powers led me to leave the S.P.s and end my romance with fellow cadet Gigi Cusimano, it also enabled me to be in a position to eventually meet the woman who became my wife!
Gim’s pregnant wife Yera came from the planet Durla, and the shape-shifting actress had made him very happy since their rather sudden marriage. He had encountered some prejudice, since many people feared or distrusted the orange-skinned aliens who had so many secretive ways and could change their appearances with ease.
Still, he vowed to make sure that their child would always be safe from anyone who would feel hate for someone just because they were different or alien. The Legion itself embodied a diversity and tolerance that inspired many people to change their way of thinking about aliens. It’s not easy to hate someone when they save your life or your planet! he thought.
“Wool-gathering again, son?” said a sturdy man who looked like an older version of Gim. “You have to get your head out of the stars, now that you’re going to be a father!”
Marte Allon elbowed her husband as he teased their son. “I never thought I would ever hear the great Admiral Wynn Allon of the Space Fleet tell our boy to stop thinking about space!” she said.
Wynn Allon laughed and placed his arm around his wife. She was a university professor now, although she had once served as Earthgov president. “I stand corrected and appropriately chastised,” he said. “I’ve been doing more than my share of daydreaming lately. I’m as excited as a rookie on his first assignment. It’s been so long since my old crew members from the Explorer were all together. This reunion was a great idea!”
“Well,” said Gim, “after we heard about the death of Karl Klas in that fire so soon after the hover-cycle crash that killed Hans Skon, Mom and I figured we should surprise you by contacting the surviving members of your starship’s senior crew to see if you old soldiers could get together.”
Gim turned slightly and glanced skyward as a silvery spacecraft appeared and began to draw closer as busy station officials guided it down from their remote stations. “I think that must be the ship Matt Dayn is coming in on!” he said as he shielded his eyes with one hand and looked up through the bright sun.
Wynn nodded. “It is. I heard the announcement when it cleared the protective polymer shield. Those broadcasts are useful things. I don’t want to miss my old friends. I was a real tyrant when it came to punctuality during my service days! They’d never let me hear the end of it if I was tardy!” He frowned as the ship above began to tilt slightly, and then he stared with wide-eyed horror as it exploded into flames and rubble.
Gim gasped as well, but he also acted with the speed and certainty that made him a hero. He grew larger and larger until he towered far above the spaceport. He knew that he could not safely hold the fragments of the damaged craft together, nor could he stop its plight. Still, he also knew that he could not stand by while others died.
Colossal Boy strained to increase his size even more. He had never really tested the limits of his power, and he knew that its use had never been a painful thing before. Still, he pushed himself as his size continued to increase, but at a much slower rate. Got to get it down safely! he thought as he reached out with the same skill that had turned the once-clumsy youth into a champion moopsball player in school.
Catching the ship, he strained to plunge the burning end of it under the waters of the nearby city harbor before returning it to land. The swift act had smothered the flames, but it had not stopped the destruction of the craft.
Colossal Boy carried dozens of people away from the wreckage as the port authorities raced over in hovercrafts and began to tend to the injured. Gim’s hands were not burned due to the protective gloves he had been wearing as part of his red and blue uniform. He knew that he had perhaps saved countless lives, but he also saw the grim fact that many passengers had died from the initial explosion.
A bald man with a black beard came over and made his way through the crowd. He was shaken up but not injured, and he reacted with the stolid manner of an experience man of action. “Wynn, the ship just ignited!” he said as Wynn clasped his arm in greeting. “The crew could not even react in time! We were sailing in like a dream when the rear thruster just blew apart!”
“Matt, I’m just glad to see you,” said Wynn. “I must be getting rusty in my civilian life. I couldn’t even tell what was happening until the ship just started to fall apart! Gim here saved us all!”
Marte nodded. “Matt Dayn, this is Gim. I wish you could have met under less dramatic circumstances, but I’ve learned that our son’s life is never dull!”
The old soldier looked intently at Colossal Boy and then nodded in approval. “He would have made a truly impressive Space Fleet Commander,” said Matt. “The boy has your cool head!”
“Thank you,” said Gim. “Dad’s always been a real hero to me. I’ve heard a lot about you, too, sir.”
They started to leave the spaceport as the port authorities and Science Police officers joined medics to tend to the living and the dead. Gim knew that they would forward any data about the accident to his team headquarters as a matter of routine. He also hoped an odd feeling that he had about the whole incident was not correct.
I may be worrying for nothing, but with the deadly accidents that took the lives of two other service buddies of Dad’s, I can’t help but wonder if this was more than equipment failure, he mused. Somebody may be trying to kill the senior officers of the U.P. Explorer!
Meanwhile, with his multi-lab in the Legion Headquarters, Brainiac 5 was bored. He had upgraded several aspects of Computo’s automated systems. He had checked to be certain that the mission monitor board that indicated the current status of each member of the team of heroes was working correctly. He had theorized a couple of new patents that would revolutionize several scientific fields. He had even simultaneously played several games of multidimensional chess with the computers while working out a new campaign scenario for a game of D and D. Now the genius from Colu turned his attention to another lingering problem.
“When I met Lydia-7, the second Supergirl, she assured me that she was, in fact, a direct descendant of Kara’s. (*) I find that option to be unlikely, unless Lydia’s future is merely one possible alternate one of many. Much like the adult Legion of Super-Villains originated in such a potential future, so could Lydia have done so. Kara certainly had no serious romantic attachment before her death in the Crisis. The Kryptonian genetic structure would preclude that she could have conceived a child with an Earth native. If logic dictates that Lydia merely came from a timeline in which Kara did indeed have a child, then why do I still concern myself so with the possibility that Lydia spoke the literal truth? Am I merely jealous of some unknown entity who might have been involved with Kara?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Legion of Super-Heroes: Time Won’t Let Me.]
The idea plagued him, and he decided to occupy his mind with a new diversion. “Perhaps I should look into Computo’s link to the Earthgov penal system security monitors.” He shook his head and turned to examine a monitoring system within his private lab.
Images flashed across a screen. He noticed the surroundings and interiors of several prisons based around the globe. Everything seemed to be normal until he spotted the routine report from Warden Sekia of the Glacier Point, Antarctica Prison, in which the official assured the S.P. that everything was stable and normal at the prison. The portly alien looked calm, although his colorful strings of beads and the ornate amulet he wore around his thick neck made him stand out from the image of the typical official. Brainiac 5 knew that Sekia was known for his rather gaudy style, but that same image concerned the Coluan.
“The holo report the Science Police received from the prison looks normal, except for one rather disturbing detail. I think I need to pay this prison a visit.” He frowned and stood up as he scanned the mission monitor board and began to take action.
Back at the Allon home, Gim was equally worried. He had been in discussion with Science Police Officer Roon Dvron, and the young man had revealed grim news to the Legionnaire. “Our initial scans indicate that a thermo-bomb was attached to the rear thruster of the ship that exploded,” the red-haired Dvron had said. “That was no accident. It was a deliberate attempt to murder everyone aboard the ship!”
Now, in his family home, Gim stood apart from his parents and their guests. He had made perfunctory greetings to Janise Pyton, Fryd Hova, and Richard Wayne when the former Space Fleet officers had arrived. They had taken separate transportation to the Allon home, and none of them had met with any accident.
Dad looks so happy to see his senior crew officers again, he thought. I hate to spoil the party, but I think my fear was correct. Somebody is trying to kill them all. I did some digging, and while I found no real evidence, it is certainly possible that the hover-cycle crash that killed Hans Skon over Old Boston and the fire in which Karl Klas died were also deliberate murders disguised as accidents.
Feeling a soft hand caress his broad shoulders, he glanced down to see the smiling face of his wife Yera. The beautiful Durlan woman gazed up at him with understanding eyes as she said, “Gim, you may be a very big man, but even you need not carry the weight of the world like Atlas in the Earth myth.”
Taking her hands in his own, he said, “Yera, you know me too well. How’s a husband suppose to get anything over on his wife if she’s as perceptive as you? I guess I might as well tell them. I’ve been hesitating ever since I told you about Dvron’s message.”
“You are so very caring!” she said. “You can’t shield them from the danger by keeping them in the dark. They are all decorated soldiers.”
He nodded and led her into the living room, where the group was talking and where Wynn was pouring a bottle of Jovian brandy.
“Gim, we’ve been talking about our days on the Explorer,” said Wynn. “Somebody from those days is trying to pay us back for some real or imagined offense. Poor Karl and Hans already suffered for whatever sin the killer thinks we committed!”
“You know?” said Gim. “Of course you know! I was acting like a dolt trying to protect you from the truth. I guess this makes it easier for us all. Who do you think has such a bitter hatred for you all?”
The elegant Janise Pyton shook her silvery-white hair and said, “Gim, you must remember that we saw plenty of action in those days. We spent years fighting the Border Wars against the Dominion. The Dominators may claim they want peace with the U.P., but they are cunning. I could imagine those devils waiting all these years to get us.”
Richard Wayne, a very gaunt man in purple, said, “I was a diplomat to the Dominion for years. I just don’t see them as being behind this. Not even a rogue tribe would go to such extremes.”
The handsome and commanding Fryd Hova scowled and said, “I concur. Still, why trouble this little beauty with our bloody war stories? She’s going to make our Gim, here, a proud papa! She should think only of bedtime stories, not war stories!”
Yera inclined her head demurely and said, “My thanks to you, sir. I imagine Wynn has been boasting about me again. He is entirely too kind.”
Wynn smiled at his daughter-in-law and said, “Uh, no, Yera, I had not mentioned the good news to my old friends yet!”
“Don’t tell me,” said Gim. “Captain Hova is from Titan!”
Hova laughed sharply and said, “No, son. This old man is not a mind-reader. I just have an eye for jewels, and I saw that your wife is wearing a birthing amulet. Wynn and I also served many a year on quarantine duty in orbit above Durla in the old days.”
Gim nodded and said, “Right. I wondered why she started wearing that heavy gemstone myself. I was afraid it was a hint that she wanted me to go out and buy her a matching bracelet or something! Instead, as you said, it signifies the fact that a new life is within her!”
Matt Dayn scowled and swigged a glass of brandy. He had made no effort to conceal the fact that he was uncomfortable around the Durlan woman.
Gim assumed that the old soldier had picked up a dislike for the alien race during his service days. In the years in which Matt and Wynn had been young soldiers, Durla was held under even stricter control and stronger suspicion than it was today. Gim tensed slightly. He was not going to allow anyone to be rude to his wife. He was about to speak when his mother entered and announced that dinner was ready.
The group filed out, and Gim sighed. He didn’t have to like Dayn in order to protect him, but it would certainly make the duty more pleasant if he could find something to like about him. He was disappointed that a man in whom his father obviously placed such respect and admiration carried such a prejudice.