“Well done, Querl Dox,” said Pulsar Stargrave. “You will make me proud of you yet! I even admired the way in which you tried to bluff me about the gold kryptonite. I knew that your efforts would be meaningless, since non-super-powered Rokynites would not be altered in any way by gold kryptonite. You would have to have developed some type of anti-gold K to achieve your goal, and that is beyond your resources!”
“So all of this comes down to nothing more than a petty type of revenge on the Rokynites for wrongs they committed against your family?” asked Phantom Girl.
Pulsar Stargrave shouted harshly. “Family? That term is alien to me. I am a living star! Yet I do relish every emotion, since such feelings show me to be far more than the sum of my parts. Still, you disappoint me by assuming my actions could be motivated by such a paltry and ignoble feeling. And you wound me by even considering this simpleton’s idea, Brainiac 5! Now try to apply your own intellect, such as it is, and think of the unique nature of that planet!”
“It’s a phase world, because it is located on the cosmic axis!” said Lesla.
“Of course!” said Brainiac 5. “You wanted to reduce the world to a size in which it could be moved within your ship and serve as a power source! You want to use that cosmic axis energy to remake the universe according to your whims!”
Pulsar Stargrave brought his hands together and clapped for a moment or two. “Excellent! That’s my boy! With Rokyn’s peculiar energies fueling my ship, I will be able to warp entire worlds in or out of the universe as I please. The cosmos will bow down to me, or I will mar its pristine beauty with delight! Where worlds once thrived, I will leave empty space! I will bring worlds into this universe as I please. I will be more than Pulsar Stargrave. I will be the master creator!”
As he clenched his fist, energy exploded through the ship, but Brainiac 5 had acted to contain the alien within his force-shield. “Your energy can’t penetrate this field,” he said. “We both know that!”
“Ah, you seek to trap me within a field of your own! That failed to do more than enable me to fake my own demise when last we met. You see, my teleportational systems can bypass your field. I could not break it, but my genius allows me to overcome its effects!”
Pulsar Stargrave laughed and stepped out of the field. He had truly teleported from one spot to another, but the visual effect disguised this action. “Rokyn’s cosmic axis power will be mine in moments!” he said. “My ship will draw it into my engine room when the planet shrinks a bit more! Already, my sensors detect that flux of other-dimensional energies all around us!”
Brainiac 5 used the telepathic plugs to send directions to Lesla Vol-Lar, and the girl acted instantly. “My ancestor Valor was a being of energy,” she said. “I can match your power with my own energy!”
Lesla raced forward to attack Stargrave. She was representing more than her family and her world. She was fighting for a proud legend that still inspired others by its example. She was embodying the ideals of Superman.
Stargrave sneered as the energy around his body assumed a new hue. “Lesla Vol-Lar, or shall I call you Valor II?” he said. “I may rob you of all your energy-based powers merely by generating yellow sun energy. Like the original Valor, you lose those gifts when you are not under a red sun!”
Lesla smiled and said, “But I gain other powers!” She moved with such super-speed that, to observers, it appeared as if she had not moved at all. She placed her hands on her hips and defiantly said, “Contain him, Brainiac 5!”
Brainiac 5 nodded and once again generated a tight force-shield around Pulsar Stargrave. The hulking green alien laughed and said, “Your imagination fails you so soon? You resort to old tricks and tired ploys.”
But as he activated his teleportational system, he gasped as his body flickered and became nearly transparent. “What have you done?” he gasped.
The holo projection of the original Brainiac appeared on the deck, and he spoke with what could only be called sadness as he addressed his son. “You mocked my skills, but they were enough to mask my actions,” he said. “I contacted young Brainiac 5 via the plugs he wore, and I gave him instructions. I had him order Lesla to goad you into using yellow sun energies to grant her super-powers, which she then used to alter your systems. You see, any tampering Lesla could have done to your equipment would normally have been detected by your own sensors. Her super-speed could not fool you in that way without my help. I did manage to camouflage her changes to your system at great cost to myself. I am not the being I once was in any manner. Still, I gladly give up my old levels of power and intellect to save the universe from a mad child I created long ago!”
“I did what you told me to do,” said Lesla. “I altered the teleportational system he uses so that it would draw upon Rokyn’s own cosmic axis energies and strand him in a limbo between universes. He is forever trapped as a wraith. He is neither in this universe nor the other one Rokyn enters at seasonal shifts of the axis.”
Pulsar Stargrave cried out in anger, but he was helpless. Nothing he could do could free his ghostly form. He could not touch anything. He could not make contact with humans or machines. Pulsar Stargrave would not age or die or suffer system failures. He would live on endlessly as a helpless observer of the universes between which he was imprisoned.
“Ironic,” said Brainiac 5. “We’ve sentenced him to a type of Phantom Zone all his own.”
“What about Rokyn?” asked Lesla. “Can you restore it?”
“Yes,” said Brainiac 5, “but I fear that the only way to do so is to artificially stimulate its traditional departure from this universe. Once back in its own second dimensional home, it will return to normal size along with its natives. I also assume that the Nightwing agents will be demoralized by their own plight. Their god failed them and betrayed them, as far as they know.”
“But won’t it shrink again when it returns to this universe?” asked Lesla.
“Yes, it will, so I have to drain off all its cosmic axis energy as Stargrave attempted to do,” said Brainiac 5. “I will save it from shrinking again, but I will also banish it to that other universe, possibly forever.”
“I have no family anymore,” said Lesla. “My poor Uncle Yon died, as did my folks! I am not at home now, on or off Rokyn!”
“You could come with us to Earth,” suggested Brainiac 5. “You could join the Legion. We’ve granted membership to others on the basis of battlefield testing, like Invisible Kid, Blok, and the White Witch. From what we’ve seen here today, you would make a fine Legionnaire. It would be like you were carrying on the proud legacy of Supergirl and Superboy.”
“Lesla, we’d welcome you to the team,” said Phantom Girl. “You’d be a bit of a double threat, since under red suns you’d have energy-based powers, and under yellow suns, you’d have traditional Kryptonian might.”
“What do you say?” asked Shrinking Violet. “President Stewart is such a Legion booster that he removed our old taxation-based and power-duplication membership limits.”
Lesla smiled and said, “I’d be honored! Thank you! I’ll try to be worthy!”
The heroes worked swiftly with Brainiac’s help, and they watched as Rokyn faded from view as they stood on the deck of the Legion Cruiser. “It’s returning to that other universe now,” said Brainiac. “I am certain it will return to normal size as well now. May that world and its people find new peace and new glory in their new home. They have known much change in their history, and much of it came at my hands, I am sorry to say! For that reason, I would go with them and help them if possible.”
As Brainiac’s electronic awareness began departing from his ship via a final data transmission to the departing Rokyn, he said, “Farewell, Lesla Vol-Lar. You will make a fine Legionnaire!”
“Goodbye, Brainiac,” said Lesla. “May Rao bring you peace!”
“We’ve secured Holdur and Quicksand below deck and Stargrave is trapped in limbo,” said Chameleon Boy. “We can’t even hear him now!”
Shrinking Violet turned to where a ghostly image of the alien killer still lingered and watched their actions. His expression was contorted with fury, but his screams could not be heard. “He still gives me the chills,” she said. “Let’s get out of here and leave him to rot!”
“Yeah, but we still have a big problem,” said Ultra Boy. “We have to find a way to stop the Controller from killing off the Tyrrazians!”
“Based on data Brainiac confirmed for me while you were securing the prisoners, I have the answer to that riddle,” said Brainiac 5. “We will relocate them to a barren world called Bryak. Pulsar Stargrave was using it as his base, and it now lacks any life. It is devoid of humanoid life, but it has plants and animals and could be a new home for them. The Tyrrazians would lack their technological weapons, but they could make a life for themselves there. That would solve the problem nicely.”
“The cyber-warriors would be pretty harmless on a pre-technological world,” agreed Chameleon Boy. “Why is Bryak so lifeless?”
“The original Brainiac learned of that world long ago,” said Brainiac 5. “A plague killed all of its population. The agents that caused that plague have been eliminated over time. When Brainiac first started his mission as a humanoid spy for the Computer Tyrants, he lied about his true nature. He presented himself and two or more android allies as living aliens from a world called Bryak. He claimed to be stealing cities in order to repopulate that dead world so he could rule it. It was a simple story, but the only truth to it was that there was indeed such a world, and a plague had ended life there!”
“That is amazing, mon ami!” said Invisible Kid. “To think that in some ways, Brainiac is responsible for a new life for an entire race!”
Violet smiled and said, “Let’s hope the Controller sees it like that.”
Shortly afterward, the heroes watched an amazing display of power as the Controller used his energies to relocate the Tyrrazians to Bryak. “They will find life to be hard on that world, but they deserved to die,” he said. “This act of mercy is something for which they should be appreciative. I will hold your team responsible, should they rise up again to threaten the universe. You are now the guardians of the former Tyrrazians, Legionnaires. Do not take your duties lightly!”
“We’re always ready to protect those in need, Controller!” said Shrinking Violet.
The elder being nodded and said, “Perhaps I will stay long enough to see them on their proper path to peaceful development.”
“I’m tempted to say he’s becoming an old softy!” remarked Phantom Girl. She turned to a silent Jo Nah and cuddled closer to him. “You’re brooding over what Stargrave said, aren’t you? Jo, whether that intangibility was the result of my power, your power, or some cosmic fluke, we’ll find the truth. Don’t let Stargrave’s words get to you!”
Ultra Boy smiled ruefully. “Well, Tinya, I don’t care what he thinks. I do wonder, though, if maybe there’s a lot more to my powers than I’ve ever known!”
They waited as the Controller’s powerful energies surged over the now-empty Tyrraz and engulfed the barren world of engines and weapons in cosmic flame. “Let that pyre signal the end of an era for the Tyrrazians!” he said.
Trapped within his own limbo, Pulsar Stargrave screamed in rage, but again, no one could hear him, and no one would help him. Still, he could think, and his thoughts centered around dark vows of revenge upon the Legion and the universe itself. You will all pay for this! Pulsar Stargrave will return! I will rule this cosmos or destroy it! he thought. However, that was all he could do.