by Martin Maenza
There was still fog in the morning air when the original Star Sapphire descended into the pine forest. She landed in an open clearing in the woods, the spot she had been directed to mentally. Many questions swirled in her head, the strongest being when the Zamarons returned from wherever they had disappeared to with the Guardians of the Universe. “I will have my answers,” she said to herself. “As queen, I deserve that much!”
As the fog in the clearing started to dissipate, a female figure approached. She had curly black hair that sat under a golden helmet. The woman wore armor of a similar gold color with a short brown skirt. Star Sapphire immediately recognized the uniform of the Zamaron guard. “Dylia Befir, I presume,” the woman stated.
“Yes, Your Highness,” the guard responded. “Thank you for meeting me here on such short notice. I have something urgent to share with you.”
Star Sapphire nodded. “But first I need answers to my questions!”
Dylia looked a bit concerned. “That will have to wait, my queen. We must deal with this other situation first.” From the fog stepped another woman with dark hair, dressed in pink.
Star Sapphire recognized the uniform instantly. It was the same uniform she had worn before, the one she had replaced with her current armor when the Zamarons had abandoned her. “What is this?!” she exclaimed. “Who dares wear the vestments of the Zamaron queen? I am the Zamaron queen!”
The pink-masked newcomer spoke up. “I am Remoni-Notra of Pandina,” she said confidently. “I was trained for the role as the queen of Zamaron! I challenge you now for that title, as is written in the Zamaron laws!”
The original Star Sapphire laughed. “You cannot be serious! I am the rightful successor to the throne! I have proven that before in battle!” She recalled the time that Dela Pharon of Xanador had been chosen to rule in her stead, but Carol had reclaimed the title by besting Dela in battle. (*) “I destroyed that wanna-be easily, and I shall do the same to you!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Double Life of Star Sapphire,” Green Lantern v2 #41 (December, 1965).]
The violet stone in her headpiece began to pulse.
“Hold!” Dylia Befir said, stepping between the two dark-haired women. “As is our custom by the rite of Halfurar, you may not use the star sapphire during this battle, Your Highness.” The guard held forth her hand, awaiting the surrender of the gemstone.
“What?!” Carol Ferris exclaimed. “Are you serious?”
“Do you not know of all the Zamaron customs and rites?” Remoni challenged her. “Surely, if you are worthy of the throne, you would know of Halfurar. She was the third queen of Zamaron, who won the title by besting her opponent in physical combat.” She turned to the guard, who merely nodded in agreement.
Carol Ferris considered. She didn’t really know of this custom and admitted to herself that she was not completely up on the Zamarons’ long history. Thinking it better than to look like a fool, she reached up to her headpiece and removed the purple gemstone. “Of course I know of the custom! I was merely testing you, challenger.” She placed it into the hand of Dylia Befir.
“You shall use these spears which represent that challenge to the throne,” Dylia said as she produced two weapons from against a nearby tree. She handed one to Carol and the other to Remoni, then stepped to the sidelines. “The battle shall commence until one has proven her superiority over the other. Begin!”
Carol raised her spear high and charged the other woman. “For challenging my authority, I shall make your death swift!”
Remoni adjusted her spear into two hands and countered the thrust with the long staff of her weapon. While she managed to throw off the attack, Carol still managed to maintain a hold on her weapon. Remoni knew she had to stay focused and controlled; this might be her only chance to reclaim the power that was hers, and her emotions were not about to screw that up.
Disguised as the Zamaron guard, the Tattooed Lady carefully held the star sapphire gemstone in her hands. Its edges were smooth, its shape was oval, and its color was a dark violet shade. As she tilted it from side to side, it reflected the sunlight that shone down through the pine branches. It was slightly warm to the touch.
Lydia Anastasios could almost feel the power that the star sapphire possessed, or perhaps she only imagined she could on account of her nervousness. All of this was still so odd to her: talking gorillas, image-altering devices, posing as an alien warrior, and two women battling over an alien royal title. She wondered if things were always going to be like this.
As Lydia watched the two women sparring, she weighed the outcome of the battle.
If Camille Fortier was victorious, would she remain with the Secret Society, or would she take off, now that she had what she desired? Lydia hoped the latter would not be the case, despite the fact that the two women had not exactly hit it off yet. She hoped Camille would remain, in part because she did not feel all that comfortable around these men. Perhaps Mirror Master was the exception to that, as he seemed more polished and somewhat gentleman-like. But he wasn’t as nice as Abel Tarrant had been to her.
But what if the other Star Sapphire were to win the challenge? What would she do to Camille for attempting to claim the title of queen of Zamaron? What would she do to Lydia if she discovered that she was, in fact, not who she claimed to be? Lydia watched the two battle fiercely and shuddered a bit.
Then she gathered her nerve. No, Lydia thought, as long as the gemstone is in my hands, I will make sure the other woman does not get it back. She only hoped the others had not strayed too far. Whether or not she was comfortable around them, they were formidable. If Camille were to fall, surely they could handle the angry queen.
The other super-villains watched from a hidden spot in the brush as the two women continued to clash. Mirror Master had used a couple of his light-refracting prisms to hide the jet as well as himself, Gizmo, and Grodd. Copperhead, meanwhile, had chosen to hide up among the tree branches to get a different perspective on things, or so he claimed.
Gizmo put away the weather wand that they had used to generate the foggy cover, then watched the battle with a bit of glee. “Always fun to watch two women go at it, eh?” he said in a whisper as he nudged one of his teammates.
Mirror Master smiled. “I guess it is,” he agreed.
Grodd merely snorted.
The man in green and orange leaned in closer to the gorilla. “C’mon, Grodd, you have to admit that they certainly know how to fight. They’re going at it like a pair of women possessed.”
Grodd nodded. “They certainly possess the warrior spirit.” He watched as Carol took a swipe with her spear and made a gash across Remoni’s thigh. “But I wonder which one truly wants the power more.”
Mirror Master considered. “I know Camille wants to win this battle on her own, but she won’t do the Secret Society any good if she gets killed.” He looked over at the specialized case holding the various Rogues Gallery weapons.
Remoni-Notra fought hard, but quickly was concluding that she could have trained harder for this moment. She had grown fairly dependent upon the star sapphire’s power when she had possessed the gemstone. Now, though she had the determination and willpower, she found that her warrior training was not up to the task. She made a mental note to keep up on that after she won the gemstone. After, not if, she reminded herself.
Carol Ferris, meanwhile, had no problem keeping up both a physical and verbal assault. “What’s the matter, sweetie?” Their spears clanged together once more, but Carol’s grip remained firm and steady. “Did you think I’d be a pushover? An easy victory?”
As Carol swung her spear around hard, Remoni barely had time to dodge it and stumbled backward. Carol continued to press forward on the attack, bringing her weapon around once more. “You thought wrong!”
Carol’s blade caught the edge of her opponent’s blade, which allowed her the chance to disarm the other woman. Remoni’s spear slipped from her grasp and went hurtling across the grass. “I sacrificed a lot in my life in order to accept the Star Sapphire role! I won’t let you, or Green Lantern, or anyone else take that away from me!”
Remoni grabbed for Carol’s weapon. “You aren’t the only who has sacrificed,” she growled. “And you stole the power from me not too long ago. I’m just reclaiming what was mine!”
Carol swept one leg between Remoni’s, then shoved her hard in the gut with her armored fist. The challenger toppled backward to the ground. “I’m sure the Zamarons gave you a power gem during the period when I was not yet ready to accept my destiny! I have since reconciled with that. I’ve even waited patiently while my subjects had gone off with the Guardians. When they return to Zamaron in force, and they will, I will be waiting for them as their rightful queen!” Carol swung the pointed end of her spear around. “While you will be buried here, six feet under, on the very spot of your defeat!”
Just as Carol was about to bring the spear point down to bear, a bright light flashed in her eyes. Something in the trees had caught the sunlight at just the perfect angle, temporarily blinding her. “Aargh!” Carol exclaimed. She brought the weapon down hard as she had intended.
The point of the spear embedded into the ground just inches to the left of Remoni’s torso. She had managed to take advantage of the woman’s sightlessness and had rolled to the side. As Carol was trying to pull the spear from the ground, Remoni rose silently to her feet.
She swung her pink-booted foot around and connected squarely with the side of Carol’s headpiece. “Don’t count me out of this yet, lady!” Remoni pressed on with the advantage, striking Carol about the shoulders and back with clenched fists. “I may be a lot of things, but I am no loser! I came here to get that gemstone, and I will have it!”
While Carol struggled on the ground, her sight slowly returning, Remoni darted across the clearing to where her comrade was standing. “Lydia, give me the gemstone now!” she ordered.
The disguised Tattooed Lady nodded and handed her the purple stone. “Whatever you say, Camille.” She then pressed the button on the image-maker she wore and returned to her normal appearance.
Remoni placed the star sapphire into the headpiece of her costume, and the alien gemstone seemed to bond with the wearer. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “Once more, the power is mine!” She turned to Carol, who was starting to rise. “Oh, no, sister! No need to stand!” Violet energy pulsed from the stone and knocked Carol back to the ground again with a forceful blast. “You aren’t going anywhere yet!”
The others emerged from hiding. “Bravo, my dear!” Mirror Master applauded. “Well done!”
Grodd nodded. “So, are you going to execute her now?” he asked.
Star Sapphire merely smiled. “I have something else in mind, something comparable to what she did to me!”
While Gizmo, Copperhead, and Tattooed Lady gathered their things and prepared the jet flier for departure, Mirror Master spoke with the newly re-powered Star Sapphire. “I must congratulate you again on your victory, Camille,” he said. “I’m so glad we could assist you in reaching your goal.”
Star Sapphire’s smile started to turn. “What did you mean by that, Scudder?”
Mirror Master replied, “I merely meant in helping track down the Star Sapphire from Earth. Nothing more than that.” Sam Scudder smiled but thought to himself, That and ensuring you’d win the battle with a properly placed mirror. “Shall we check on Grodd?”
The two costumed villains crossed the clearing to where Carol Ferris’ unconscious body lay on the ground. Star Sapphire had used the gemstone to alter the woman’s armor into a simple green dress. Grodd sat near her head, his huge hands holding each side of it while she lay still on her back.
After a few minutes, Grodd stood up. “It is done,” he announced. Carol lay on the ground in almost a deep-sleep state. “She should be out of it for another few minutes or so. Plenty of time for us to depart this place.”
Star Sapphire looked at Carol’s face sternly, so at peace. “Were you able to do as I instructed?”
The super-gorilla nodded. “Indeed I was. With my vast mental abilities, it was not too difficult to connect with her mind and filter through her memories. With a bit more effort, I was able to purge specific memories from her brain, targeting specifically those relating to the Zamarons and her role as the Star Sapphire. When she does awake, she will remember nothing related to those things, including the battle here today.”
“What will she remember?” Mirror Master asked.
“Very little, actually,” Grodd said, smiling. “In the simplest of terms, I’ve given her a severe case of amnesia. She won’t know her full name, where she is from, who her friends or family are, or even how she got here. At Star Sapphire’s request, I have, in essence, taken away the woman’s very identity.”
“Excellent!” Star Sapphire exclaimed. “She took my power and my identity, now I do the same to her!” She turned and headed for the flier.
Mirror Master waited for her to get far enough away. “The woman has style, eh, Grodd?” he said and then followed.
Grodd took one last look at the human woman who lay in the grass. Thank you, Carol Ferris, he thought to himself. In filtering through your memories, I have also been enriched; information that you once possessed could prove beneficial to me in the future. He chuckled to himself as he made his way to the flier.