Legion of Super-Heroes: The Return, Chapter 2: The Living Engine

by Libbylawrence

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Within a Legion Cruiser speeding through space, Shrinking Violet sat on top of a lab table and watched with visible impatience as a green-hued young man in purple worked over a strange device. Shrinking Violet was now wearing her customary light green minidress and black boots. She knew Brainiac 5 was a genius. She trusted him to know what he was doing down to the last degree. However, she was eager for action, and she jumped down off the table to question him again.

“Brainy, you’ve been checking and rechecking that data since I came inside the cruiser lab an hour ago,” said Salu Digby. “I hate to sound like I’m getting bored watching you mutter to yourself, but what’s the deal?”

Invisible Kid smiled and raised a hand in a placating manner. “Salu, he will tell us all when he knows the answers! Like a master chef preparing his wares, Brainiac 5 works his lab with the skill and artistry of a genius. To rush either would to be risk spoilage of their unique preparations!”

“Now that’s stretching a comparison to the limit!” said Shrinking Violet. “I guess I’m impatient, since our guest from Tyrraz hasn’t been able to tell us one thing. I also suspect Brainy learned more from examining that mind-control thing we took from her ear than he has revealed to us.” She gestured to where the woman from Tyrraz still slumbered within a medi-pod. “Maybe when she wakes up, we’ll get the truth.”

Invisible Kid smiled and said, “What about the men who attacked you? Did the Science Police learn anything more about their purpose or background?”

Violet shook her head and said, “Well, I assumed they were goons from the same group that had me kidnapped last time, but they deny any association with any of the numerous radical groups on Imsk that oppose the U.P. for various political or economic reasons. I tend to believe their claim, since those nuts love to spout rhetoric and even take credit for things their groups never did.”

Jacques Foccart listened intently and said, “So they were just common thugs hired by some enemy of the Legion?”

“The Science Police did a routine mind-scan on them,” replied Salu, placing both arms across her chest in a confident manner. “As you know, the gear from the Mind Institute on Titan is not foolproof, but it is highly accurate, as far as general surface scans go. I suppose we can accept their story. They don’t work for any Imskian radical group, and their boss man gave them orders without telling them exactly who they were working for. The brains of the operation didn’t reveal himself to these three. They came from a petty gang of thugs led by one Selka Doss. He is still on the loose. He gave them orders to nab me, but he didn’t accompany them to Earth.

“So, now that I’ve shared all I know about my last adventure, why don’t we see if Brainy is ready to tell us what’s going on?” she added. “He ordered us all on this cruiser and gave flight directions to Jo and Tinya when we met them. I wonder how long it will be before we reach Tyrraz? Jo and Tinya are supposed to be piloting the cruiser up front, but for all we know, they’ve started making out or something!” She smiled at that.

Chameleon Boy entered and said, “Vi, we’re not going to Tyrraz, or at least we’re not going to where Tyrraz was located when we stranded that mobile planet in space before.”

“We’re following it,” said Vi. “I should have realized that. How did Brainy pinpoint its trail?”

Suddenly, Brainiac 5 said, “I had information that led me to deduce its most likely path. You see, before the Tyrrazian attacked us, I was planning to take detached leave in order to investigate a scientific anomaly near my home planet of Colu. Certain astrological findings taken by scientists there indicated that an unseen force was interfering with various orbital probes placed in the Colu system for scientific study. I was planning to find out the source of the problem. Based on what I’ve learned since then, I suspect the answer is frighteningly simple.”

Shrinking Violet’s eyes widened as she anticipated his startling announcement.

Brainiac 5 stood up and said, “My own scans have determined that Tyrraz is in motion and has warped through space itself to emerge on a direct course toward Colu. The war-world itself is what is disrupting the various orbital probes sent up by Colu.”

“No wonder you’ve been so tense about the whole thing,” said Shrinking Violet. “I guess we’re heading for Colu!”

Chameleon Boy nodded and said, “Right. Jo says we’ll be there shortly. Still, you had not completed your space-scans when you told Jo to set course for Colu. How did you know that was the place we should go?”

Brainiac 5 sighed and pointed to the remains of the mind-probe on the lab table. “You see, certain parts from that device have not been in evidence in centuries. While the application of the parts is innovative and new, the actual components are extremely old in design. When they were last utilized on a regular basis, they were most commonly found on a world called Yod!”

“Yod?” said Invisible Kid. “I cannot say I’ve ever heard of it. Still, from what I heard before, Tyr and his warlords made use of every conceivable resource on Tyrraz in order to build their war-world. Why would it be so surprising that they bought their exotic weapons from an obscure, backwater planet nobody has ever heard of?”

Brainiac 5 frowned as he said, “Jacques, Yod was the ancient name of my homeworld, Colu! If the Tyyrazians have access to inventions from Colu’s nearly forgotten past, then I am concerned that they may also have access to more deadly inventions from before the rise of the Computer Tyrants!”

Violet nodded and said, “I see! No wonder you are concerned. Forgive me for acting like Nura before a sheerite sale.”

Brainiac 5 nodded and said, “I understand your impatience. You, in turn, can appreciate why I would be fascinated with anything drawn from the past history of my world. The age of the Computer Tyrants spawned many dangerous inventions, and not even my records are complete in terms of their extent and nature.”

Querl Dox came from a family of importance and notoriety in Colu’s history. The planet had always been noted for its highly advanced developments in various scientific fields. However, the wonders created by Colu’s brilliant minds were shadowed by the horrors that same talent had unleashed. The sentient thinking machines known as the Computer Tyrants had swiftly dominated every aspect of Colu’s culture until the helpless natives had become enslaved by the machines that had grown far beyond their inventors in terms of intellect and ruthlessness. Only the courage of Querl’s heroic ancestor Vril Dox had been the key factor in the eventual overthrow of the Computer Tyrants and the liberation of the planet from their inhuman power. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Team of Luthor and Brainiac,” Superman #167 (February, 1964).]

Now Brainiac 5 pondered the possibilities inherent in forgotten science from the era of the Computer Tyrants being used against the people of the thirtieth century. Many viewed the brilliant young man as being emotionless and cold, but they would have revised this assessment had they witnessed how he briefly shivered as he contemplated the horrors of his planet’s unholy past born anew.

Gazing at his friends with a haunted expression, he said, “Tyrraz is apparently getting ready to wage war on Colu. Obviously, in some manner their use of old Coluan technology is linked with the impending attack by the planet. We will find the answers to both mysteries, as well as that to what happened to the Controller when we save Colu from the war-world!”

At that moment, the Tyrazzian woman sat up from the medi-pod and breathed a sigh of relief. She glanced around the ship with wary eyes, then swung both legs over the side of the pod. “Legionnaires, I recognize you all from the enemy-awareness program in boot camp!” she said. “I little expected to ever seek you out for help! I am Zsaka, daughter of Zyas and sworn swordmaiden of Tyrraz! I have come to ask you for help. Our world has fallen to the tyrannical reign of Tyr once more! He resumed power and restored Tyrraz to its former glory. I alone escaped to find help!”

“First of all, why would that situation bother you?” asked Vi. “I thought all you heavy-metal cyborg battle-babes loved Tyr!”

Zsaka spat in disgust and said, “You know nothing of our culture. Tyr represents but one battle-clan. I am the heir apparent to a rival battle-clan. My people hate Tyr, and he hates us. We only returned to Tyrraz from a long exile when Tyr himself was defeated by your team. Now he has murdered my battle-clan, and I have sought out enemies of my enemy to defeat him!”

“Mademoiselle Zsaka, how did you escape?” asked Invisible Kid. “When we met you, you were driven to a berserker rage by the device implanted in your ear!”

Zsaka scowled and said, “I have no memory of any device, and I recall nothing of any attack. Should we have come to blows, you would bear scars and wounds, little man!”

“A function of the device must have been to create memory loss,” said Brainiac 5. “That confirms that she was allowed to leave in order to draw us here. Odd, we would have come to Colu in any event to have aided them. I suspect the person behind this is a manipulator who wants to toy with us.”

“Tyr is a cunning fiend!” said Zsaka. “May he rot in the limbo of Zin!”

Violet frowned and whispered to Brainiac 5, “You don’t think Tyr is the man behind all this, do you?”

Brainiac 5 replied, “I do not!”


On the main deck of the Legion Cruiser, two of the young champions sat before a broad view-screen, gazing on a scene of horror. Phantom Girl was a sprightly girl with black hair decorated by a white hair clip. She looked at the display that showed the huge mobile planet Tyrraz as the powerful engines built within the core propelled it through space like a relentless juggernaut of destructive force.

“Jo, last time Vi and I were able to shut down the engines by using our respective abilities to dismantle them,” Tinya Wazzo explained. “The loss of the engines left the whole planet stranded in a typical orbit like any other world. I know some of our pals would dismiss me as being typically cheerleader-giddy for saying this, but why can’t we do the exact same thing this time? Surely, with the Controller in charge after we left and all their natural resources depleted, the Tyrazzians could not have modified their equipment greatly.”

Ultra Boy nodded as he stared into space. The young man in red and green piloted the cruiser with care and skill. Jo Nah had received more than his share of ribbing from the others in the past for his reckless driving, and he was not about to give them more ammunition. “Tinya, my vision powers show the war-world is heavily armed and could blow us to atoms if we dropped our cloaking device,” he said. “We can’t afford to make any assumptions. I mean, how can we know that the Controller himself is not behind the whole attack? Remember, one of those pink-hued creeps did pose as the Time Trapper before we learned that he was, in fact, Dynamo Boy.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Legion of Super-Heroes: The Garridan Quest.]

The deck doors slid open automatically as the rest of the Legionnaires and Zsaka entered. “I think we can safely assume this Controller didn’t suddenly become a would-be conqueror,” said Chameleon Boy. “I mean, he did force most of us here now to shut down Tyrraz after we destroyed a Sun-Eater that he had planned to use against it!”

“Right,” said Shrinking Violet. “Plus, that method was one we had to argue with him about. He wanted to just destroy the whole planet and everyone on it. He’s not likely to have suddenly abandoned that kind of a hardline attitude about the way the universe should be run!”

“I concur,” said Brainiac 5. “We have arrived in time to prevent Tyrraz from attacking Colu. It has been moving slowly. I suspect the energies needed to help it achieve hyperspace warping are draining on its resources, and thus it has to skulk behind its own cloaking shields until those selfsame engines recharge and acquire enough power to fuel the weapons of war.”

“Well, Tyrraz is in plain sight now, so I’d say those engines are ready to attack Colu,” said Vi. “I mean, the whole planet is visible now. The people of Colu must be shocked!”

“I’m leader of the Espionage Squad, and Vi, Tinya, and Jacques are members,” said Chameleon Boy, “but I defer to you, Brainy. This is your home and your call. How do we handle it?”

“They’ve opened fire!” shouted Ultra Boy. “I’m heading out!” He rocketed out of a docking door and used his super-speed to outrace the death-ray that spat like red fire out of the weapons ports of Tyrraz.

Zsaka smiled and said, “I like that one’s spirit!”

Ultra Boy’s transsuit protected him from space, his flight ring allowed him to fly, and his telepathic earplugs allowed him to communicate with the others. Thus, Jo Nah of Rimbor could use his ultra-energy powers with a certain amount of discretion. Normally, he could only use the energy-based powers for one specific function at a time. That limitation led him to use extreme care in deciding what method of attack to use. He switched from super-speed to invulnerability as he swooped in front of the death ray. The impact drove him backward, but he did not fall or fail to block the weapon’s energy. Great Bird of the Universe! I sure wish Mon-El was here, he thought. I’d prefer my buddy as backup against a powerhouse planet like this!

“I have managed to patch through communications with Colu,” said Brainiac 5. “The leaders wish us to take charge. We will do so as follows. Jo, play backup until we are safely inside!”

The others flew out of the Cruiser and approached the huge planet. As they drew closer, they could witness the horrors of a world in which every scrap of metal and every inch of space had been made over into an industrial nightmare. Tyrraz was a like a factory dedicated to producing weapons of war.

“There are no flowers on Tyrraz, and no birds sing!” whispered Tinya as she recalled the old folk saying she had once read.

“Shall we find the engines and shut them down like before?” said Shrinking Violet.

“Yes,” said Brainiac 5. “That would be the most expedient means of preventing disaster.”

“Tyr came back to power without any warning,” said Zsaka. “No one knows what happened to the Controller. My people carried little love for that alien spawn, though. If he is dead, then I will drink to his killer, unless he is Tyr!” She ran forward and led the heroes down the narrow, grim streets of the war-world as dozens of soldiers raced out of bunkers to attack them.

“Kill the invaders!” cried one Tyrrazian. “They must not reach the core!”

“I’ve shielded us with my force-field!” said Brainiac 5. “Keep moving! The core is where we will find answers, once and for all!”

Chameleon Boy assumed the form of a multi-eyed pseudogriff and nodded even as he watched them with the eyes on the back of his snakelike head. “We will be trapped if we get to the core,” he said. “Maybe Jo and I should keep the troops busy?”

Brainiac 5 nodded. “Affirmative! I’ve summoned Ultra Boy via the telepathic plugs!”

An explosion rocked them all as smoke and fire poured skyward from a few blocks behind them.

“Ultra Boy’s here!” said Phantom Girl.

“This Ultra Boy is worthy of my battle-clan!” said Zsaka. “He might prove to be a worthy mate!”

Phantom Girl blanched but said nothing as she flew directly through walls in her ghost form and sought the heart of Tyrraz’ powerful engine core. I hope all we have to do is rip apart those engines like before! she thought. I want to get Jo away from that vixen before she and I have to fight it out!

She flew ahead of the others, then opened gates and kicked down barriers to allow them access. “This is it! The main engine core is dead ahead!” she declared as the others flew inside a gateway she’d opened.

“Disabling that engine should be a fascinating project,” said Brainiac 5. “If only we had not been brought here by such an extremity!”

“You talk too much, green face!” said Zsaka, raising her gun-arm and blasting away a wall of shielding to reveal a strange sight. The huge engine room was nearly empty. There were no antimatter/matter engines within the complex.

“They’ve moved the power sources!” gasped Phantom Girl.

“Non! I believe that small container must be the new power source!” Invisible Kid said, pointing to the only object inside the nearly vacant chamber.

“Remarkable! Not even my people could fuel such a massive structure with a power source housed in such a small container!” said Brainiac 5

“Hey, good things come in small packages!” said Shrinking Violet.

Zsaka roared in anger and sliced open the container with a precise use of her wrist-gun. Even the white-haired warrior woman gasped as she saw what was inside the container. A withered pink humanoid was strapped within a metallic web of cables and wires. He gazed at them with weak eyes and little expression to show that he was aware of his surroundings.

“That’s the Controller we left here before!” cried Violet. “They’ve turned him into a living engine! He’s like a human power battery!”

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