Later, the Legionnaires who had faced the Star King on Lythyl assembled in a Legion Cruiser over the Bermuda Triangle. “Man, talk about no rest for the wicked!” said Sun Boy. “We barely had time to pick up Tinya and drop off Dream Girl at headquarters before we flew here!”
“I’m surprised Nura wanted to stay behind,” said Lightning Lass. “Computo could have handled things there on its own. I’d hate to think the team’s resident glamor girl wanted to soak in a senso-tub instead of helping us rescue our pals!”
“I’d say she has more on her mind than that,” said Star Boy, “although, knowing Nura, if she can combine a beauty treatment with whatever it is she is up to, she’ll do both!”
“How can the Fatal Five, or Fatal Three in this case, be loose?” said Shadow Lass. “It was not that long ago that we stopped the Emerald Empress from taking over the world. I thought the others were in prison on Labyrinth when we dropped her off there months back!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Legion of Super-Heroes: To Rule a World.]
“I wondered about that, too,” said Saturn Girl. “Warden Tsaquin claimed her Emerald Eye left fake images behind that fooled the staff into thinking all three of them were safely in suspended animation on the prison planet.”
Timber Wolf grinned and said, “Knowing that poor, one-eyed guy, all he could think of was Ayla, here! He’s had a crush on my girl for years now!”
“It is not funny,” said Ayla Ranzz. “Every time we go there, he paws me like a starving man eyeing a sandwich!”
“Seriously, when we settle things here and free our friends, we need to have Brainy look into security there,” said Star Boy.
“It’s beautiful here, but why would the three of them lure us to this spot?” said Lightning Lass. “They sure don’t want us to work on our tans.”
Saturn Girl had remained silent all the while as she probed the area with her finely tuned mental powers. “I sense something!” she finally said. “I can catch a mental whisper, as if there were many minds here, but not exactly within range of my powers. It is as if they were here but not here!”
“Great!” said Timber Wolf. “More metaphysical gibberish! I wish Mysa was here. This is more in her line of action. I just want something to hit!”
“Well, we don’t need the White Witch or her magic yet,” said Mon-El. “I’ve been scanning the area with all of my super-vision powers, and I’m coming up with nothing except for a faint glow in one part of the sky.”
“Not another dimensional doorway!” said Shadow Lass.
The hero from Daxam nodded and said, “I’m afraid so, honey. My vision allows me to detect it, but it is invisible to all standard forms of observation.”
“That would explain why I am picking up on thoughts, but not really receiving any clear message,” said Saturn Girl. “It’s like a primitive Earth-era radio that only gets static but no clear sounds. There are people existing here but out of sync with this realm.”
“That’s almost like my home planet, which exists in another dimension but in the same space as Earth,” said Phantom Girl.
At that moment, the sky seemed to open as the shadowy Dark Man literally stepped out of the clear sky to stand before them on a hovering sky-cycle. “Legionnaires!” he said. “I little expected to run into you this early, although I’ve thought of you all many times since last we met!”
“The Dark Man!” cried Phantom Girl. “Don’t tell me he’s replaced Tharok as leader of the Fatal Five!”
The evil creature laughed and said, “I am both Tharok and much more! I am the herald of the living death itself!”
“Get him!” shouted Star Boy, creating a field of intense gravity around the sinister foe. But even his star-spawned power could not stop the Dark Man from charging forward and blasting at them with black lightning.
Lightning Lass jumped between her friends and the weird bolts and created a pink lightning bolt of her own that intercepted the black bolt for a moment. She stood her ground and concentrated. Her eyes sent sparks flying as her power waged war against her foe’s own deadly force. “Guys, I can’t hold that energy off much longer!” she shouted. “I can sense that it is lethal enough to even hurt Lar!”
Saturn Girl nodded and tried to mentally force the Dark Man to stop his attack. Her powerful mind reached out to his, and she grew sick as waves of malice and evil swept over her. Imra Ranzz staggered and nearly fell off the deck of the cruiser until the agile Timber Wolf dived forward to catch the prone blonde in his arms.
“Imra’s out!” Brin Londo said with a snarl.
Sun Boy flew closer and blazed with heat as he directed his fire at their grinning foe. “He’s laughing it off! What’s your plan, Thom?” he asked his friend and leader.
“Keep hitting him!” shouted Star Boy. “That’s all I’ve got for now!”
Mon-El nodded and crashed into the Dark Man. The impact was enough to end the barrage of black lightning, and Lightning Lass dropped to her knees in relief. Mon-El exchanged pounding blows with the mocking clone of Tharok, but even his power could not down the vampire. “I’m not going to let you hurt my friends!” he vowed. “I don’t care if you’re a dead man or a walking corpse! I’ve seen things that were not that different from you, and I know that all dark things fear the light!”
“My master wants you badly,” said the Dark Man. “You’ve lived far too long, and he hates being cheated in such a way!”
Mon-El’s eyes widened as he saw Phantom Girl approach the Dark Man from behind and enter his shadowy body with her own intangible form. He called out in horror as he grappled with the vampire. “Tinya, get out of him! He’s too dangerous!”
Phantom Girl fell tumbling out of the Dark Man’s body to lay at Mon-El’s feet. “Cold! So very cold!” she gasped as her entire body shivered.
“I could have told you such a petty gambit would avail you little against my dark majesty!” crowed the Dark Man.
Shadow Lass flew over and carried Tinya Wazzo to safety as Timber Wolf tackled the Dark Man. “Come on, pal!” he growled. “I owe you for the last time you tried to hurt my lady!”
The Dark Man smiled broadly and said, “Ah, yes, the lovely Ayla! She was a savory treat.”
Timber Wolf began to slow down as the glowing eyes of the Dark Man sapped his very will. “Can’t quit now! Got to resist him!” he said softly.
A blast of fire from Sun Boy separated the struggling pair but did nothing to stop the Dark Man from vanishing before their eyes. “He’s gone!” said Mon-El. “I see no residue from the means he used to teleport. I guess he has magical help from this master he spoke of before!”
The heroes tended to their fallen and tried to make sense of all that had occurred. “He did not expect us,” said Saturn Girl. “He does not have our friends, nor did he try to lure us here. I could read that much from his surface thoughts.”
“Obviously, we were set up,” said Star Boy. “The Emerald Empress and her gang have no love for the Dark Man. They helped us fight him before, remember? I guess they wanted us to do their dirty work for them.”
“Well, we did try to get them to help us fight the Sun-Eater long ago,” said Phantom Girl. “I guess they learned something from that tactic.”
“We’ll have to find them,” said Star Boy. “They’ve got Jan, Brek, and Quislet. I know our rings aren’t going to lead us to them through their signal, since Tinya said the monitor board showed no trace of them. I guess the Empress destroyed their flight rings and blocked Quislet’s communications systems on his craft.”
“I wonder just what the Dark Man did beyond that dimensional portal,” said Sun Boy.
“Tinya and Lar will find out, while the rest of you get back to headquarters,” said Star Boy. “If we could get Dawny back from her own mission, she might be able to track our foes.”
They divided up according to Star Boy’s instructions and hurried about their respective tasks.
Back at Legion Headquarters, Saturn Girl said, “The Dark Man’s mind is so full of death and hatred. I saw a skull that drove out every attempt I made to probe his mind more deeply. That skull is his master in some way!”
“He serves death,” said Timber Wolf. “That’s pretty simple.”
Imra shook her head and said, “I think it is more than that.”
Sun Boy noticed Star Boy’s grim expression, and he stepped closer to his friend. “Thom, you handled things just fine back there. Sometimes an all-out use of our powers is all we can do against a foe until we get more facts on how to shut him down!”
Thom Kallor smiled ruefully and said, “Dirk, I appreciate the support. Right now I want to see what Nura’s up to. She was pretty tight-lipped about why she wanted to stay at headquarters.”
They separated, and Thom hurried to the mission monitor board, where an illuminated display indicated that Nura Nal was in the medi-lab. He entered the silent complex and saw Nura standing over Duo Damsel’s still body. Chuck Taine had taken a brief rest elsewhere in the complex. “Nura, what’s going on?” he asked. “I think the others suspect me of favoring you by letting you ditch our mission back there!”
Nura rolled her eyes in disgust and said, “Forget about that. I had a vision on the Cruiser as we came back from Lythyl. I saw Duo Damsel clearly, and she was separated into three bodies again! That made me want to run some scans on her, in case something about this case might enable us to help her.”
Thom ran a hand across his beard and said, “Nura, I know you’re nearly as skillful as Lar and Brainy when it comes to some sciences, but do you really think you can cure her where they failed?”
“I don’t know,” said Dream Girl. “I just trust my visions. ”
Thom took her arm and said, “And I trust you.”
“I just wish I could understand how the vague darkness I saw fits in with the Fatal Five,” she said.
“I can explain that one for you,” said Star Boy. “It’s not just the remnants of the Fatal Five that we’re up against. The Dark Man is back, too! Apparently, Emerald Empress and her gang are trying to get us to oppose him for them.”
Dream Girl pursed her lips in thought, then said, “The Dark Man is the key to this. He feeds on life energy. Duo Damsel is caught in a state between life and death. He might be the one who could cure her. If he drained her energy just enough to enable her to split her bodies again, then she’d be free of the bond with her dead form.”
“Nura, if we didn’t control him precisely, he could just drain her of life completely,” said Thom.
“I know,” said Nura. “Still, what other hope is there for her? Plus, my vision depicted her in three bodies, not one. That may be figurative, but it could also be literal.”
As the lovers debated the dilemma, back over what once was called the Bermuda Triangle, Mon-El and Phantom Girl sought answers to what could be found beyond the dimensional door. “Easy enough for me to vibrate at super-speed and try to attune my vibrations to match those that keep that doorway sealed and hidden,” he said. “Once I do so, I can enter, and you can follow my path in your own phantom form.”
The pair did exactly as Lar Gand suggested, and in moments they found themselves flying over a beautiful group of islands dominated by elaborate and ornate buildings designed in the Classical style of ancient Earth. “This place is lovely, but totally devoid of life! Bodies are everywhere!” said a shocked Tinya. “Dark Man killed everyone! Odd, there are no male corpses!”
Mon-El hovered above the ground and said, “It’s not that odd. You see, men weren’t allowed on this island. To let a male set foot here would violate the ancient laws these women lived by. They were known as Amazons, and they had rejected men as part of their value system. The heroine known as Wonder Woman came from this land. Of course, at that time it was on Earth and not hidden in another neighboring dimension. At one point, they did, in fact, leave Earth to go to this place, but that exile was brief. I saw it all during my time in the Phantom Zone. I guess the Amazons returned their home to this dimension at some point after Wonder Woman’s death.”
“It sounds so sad,” said Phantom Girl. “I never even knew they existed. They’ve been away from Earth’s dimension for centuries, apparently. Our histories don’t even mention them!”
“There were several different heroines who came from the original Paradise Island,” explained Mon-El. “They all used the name Wonder Woman, and all were allied with Superman. I guess the Legion never really encountered them except during the Crisis, and we all know our memories of that event largely faded away due to the work of the Infinite Man.”
Gazing down on a corpse that was still clad in armor of gold, he said with sadness, “This woman was their queen. She died fighting the Dark Man. He was drawn to them because of their goddess-granted eternal youth.”
“I’m sorry, Lar,” said Phantom Girl. “I guess, since you saw these people in their prime from the Zone, the loss is harder for you than it is for me.”
“I want to stop the Dark Man!” said Mon-El. “I know how precious life is, and he is an abomination!” He used his super-speed and strength to gather and burn the bodies, knowing that was their preferred funeral method.
Later, after Mon-El and Phantom Girl returned to Legion Headquarters, the Daxamite worked feverishly on a new project. He eventually emerged from his laboratory and said, “I have a device that will trace Quislet’s other-dimensional energies. We can rescue him and our pals from the Fatal Five. That’s a start, anyway.”
“Great work!” said Star Boy. “Where are they?”
“Zadron!” said Mon-El. “They’ve taken Jan, Brek, and Quislet to Tharok’s original home!”