Alyssa of the planet Thronn was a radiant bride. Her long, strawberry blonde hair was swept up in an ornate style, and her lovely figure was wonderfully accentuated by the beautiful gown she wore. The dress had been designed by Thronn’s leading stylist, and the gleaming gown was everything she had hoped it would be ever since she had first imagined her wedding day when she was a child. She smiled as she recalled how she and her Shield-Sisters had alternately passed free time daydreaming about the husbands they would someday claim and bragging about the battles they would win once they completed their combat training.
She had certainly seen her share of battles. Although Alyssa was still a young woman, she had achieved something none of her Shield-Sisters had ever accomplished. She had ventured far from the Arden Archipelago to fight alongside other remarkable champions known as the Honor Team of Thronn. If she had not bravely defied tradition by leaving that chain of isles to join those planetary defenders as Strong Girl, she would never have met the man she was about to marry. She shivered as if from the horror of that thought.
An older woman with white hair stood before her, smiling with obvious affection and pride. “Alyssa, you are so lovely. I am proud of you! You have grown into a fine woman.”
“Matriarch, I miss father very much, but I almost feel as though he is here,” said Alyssa.
Sbrogan nodded at her daughter and said, “You are wise, as befits the child of a keeper of the book. Your father may have died, but our love was so strong that I have ever felt him near. His spirit stays with us, and I feel — I know — that he is smiling this day!”
Alyssa nodded as her mother embraced her, and she felt certain warmth as she imagined her father looking down on them.
A gentle knock at the door alerted the pair that it was now time for the young bride to begin her walk up the stairs leading to the unification platform, where she would be wed to Sigurd.
As they passed through the door, each woman lowered her head while walking beneath the colorful garlands that hung from above. They were very tall, as were all the Sisterhood.
Sigurd is taller, and I am so glad for that, thought Alyssa. I would love him no matter what his stature, but I do love looking up into those blue eyes of his!
As they reached the white steps that led upward to the ceremonial dais, Alyssa could see the gathered guests. None of her Shield-Sisters were present, because each of them were honor-bound to remain on the Archipelago to guard and protect their assigned isles. She alone had earned the right of protecting the planet itself.
As a matriarch, Sbrogan was too old to be bound by such oaths, and she represented the only family Alyssa had ever known except for the other members of the Honor Team.
Alyssa smiled at the handsome Energiman, who had died and been brought back to life under miraculous circumstances. Years ago the noble mutant had given his life to rescue Alyssa and the rest of the Honor Team from a tyrant who had threatened all of Thronn. (*) After Energiman’s death, the team had broken up out of grief, but they were brought back together after Superman of Earth and the Green Lantern Arisia helped bring their late friend back to life. He was no longer the bulbous-eyed, large-headed mutant they’d known before his death; now he resembled Superman himself, since he’d built a new body based on the Kryptonian’s corporeal template. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Power Battery Peril,” Green Lantern v2 #32 (October, 1964) and DC Comics Presents: Superman and Arisia: To Honor and Obey and Kill.]
She nodded her head as she saw Magicko in the crowd. His red and green robe with the dramatic crest that marked him as the scientist supreme made the gaunt man stand out in any crowd. Magicko loves to give people the impression that he is a wizard, but in fact he relies on his advanced science to perform wonders, she thought.
As Alyssa reached the dais, she knelt on a cushion next to a powerfully built and handsome man dressed in gold and gray. Sigurd looked every inch the Norn-Schild that he was. As a member of the battle-ready seafaring warriors from Thronn’s icy Northolm, he was a taciturn yet incredibly loyal and capable man. What he lacked in flowery words of love, he made up for in devotion and, surprisingly, in tenderness. Alyssa had loved him from the first moment she’d met him, even though their initial meeting had been marked by an all-out brawl instead of sweet romance.
A portly man with long black hair stepped up to stand over the kneeling couple. He wore a white shirt with ornate red and gold trim. He was Antore Gray, and he would perform the ceremony.
“We are here to celebrate the union of Alyssa and Sigurd,” he announced in a dulcet tone. “We are here to share the culmination of their years of devotion and the growth of their love! Sigurd and Alyssa, all of Thronn smiles upon your union. Do you pledge to honor and love one another as long as Thronn itself shall live?”
Alyssa smiled through happy tears as she gazed at Sigurd and held his hand.
“We do!” they said in unison.
As the happy couple listened to Antore Gray’s words and spoke their vows, Energiman stiffened in his seat, having sensed a great source of unleashed power in the vicinity. Since Strong Girl and Golden Blade were busy with their wedding, it was left to the other two members of the Honor Team — Energiman and Magicko — to tackle any problems that may arise. Energiman thus kept himself highly attuned to any sources of energy in the area around the wedding chapel. I certainly hope this will turn out to be nothing more than a routine matter, he thought. I do not want to upset my friends or spoil this day of bliss!
Catching Magicko’s eye, Energiman motioned for him to stay for the ceremony, even as he concentrated, transforming his corporeal form into a being of pure emerald energy. Flying away before anyone noticed, Energiman rocketed at the speed of light as he canvassed the area in concentric circles a few miles away from the wedding site. Hopefully no one will miss me, and I can handle this situation swiftly! he thought.
Reaching an open arena normally used for sporting events or musical presentations, Energiman gasped as he saw what had drawn him there. Thousands of humanoid beings were marching out of a glowing portal that had materialized within the arena.
That is a dimensional doorway, or at least a portal that has allowed an invading force to make the journey from another world to Thronn in minutes! he realized. That type of technology rivals anything I’ve seen before during my travels through space when I was as good as dead!
Energiman wondered at the sight as he drew closer to the huge army. He recognized them to be J’ai warriors from the orange sun system of Zonn. (*) Each one was identical to every other — green-hued with an insect-like demeanor. Small antennae waved from the top of each skull, and each had a torso covered by a hard exo-skeletal armor. Four limbs extended from the top of the torso, serving as the odd beings’ arms.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Blind Hero’s Bluff,” Superman #309 (March, 1977).]
I know the J’ai to be among the most relentlessly aggressive beings in the cosmos, but they also lack the technological capability to develop such teleportation portals, mused Energiman as he flew closer to the wave of marching aliens. They’re ancient enemies of the Throneworld, and invaded that world some months ago, but I don’t think they’d ever before been spotted this far from Zonn! (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Starman: To Inherit the Stars.]
“Stop!” he shouted, using special electrical impulses to create the approximate sound of a voice in the air. “You may not come any closer. This world is under the protection of the Honor Team!” He hoped at least the essence of his words, if not their literal translation, would be received.
The J’ai warriors made no reply, nor did they verbally communicate with one another. They merely marched across the turf toward the heart of the city.
Years ago Energiman had discovered that, when he transformed into this unique type of green plasma, he could use his energy form in countless ways bound only by his imagination. Later he discovered that he had somehow been able to tap into the very same wavelength of energy used by the Green Lantern Corps, which often made him wonder if his own mutant abilities had something to do with the Green Lanterns or their fabled masters, the Guardians of the Universe. While it was true that he could transform into nearly any other type of energy, it was far easier to control his green plasma form than it was to wield raw energy.
Forming his emerald energy into a massive barrier, Energiman blocked their path. They can’t break through for now, but I can’t hold off that many of them for long! he realized.
To his chagrin, the J’ai warriors began to climb atop each other, slowly placing their combined weight against the barrier.
Allowing himself to abruptly fade away, Energiman felt brief satisfaction as the rows of invaders plunged forward like living rain. Each invader hit the ground, and many of them were shattered by the force of their fall, but seconds later several additional invaders materialized from the broken shells of their predecessors.
“Great Rhythrum! Force merely replicates them!” cried Energiman as he dived down after them, attacking them in the form of a series of geometric projections.
But as the J’ai warriors continued to multiply when struck by each other or by the mutant, Energiman drew back as he desperately struggled against the onslaught. “I can’t harm them,” he said. “Even a lethal amount of force would only produce more of them!”
Although he tried to contain them by transforming into a bubble of force around them, they merely hurled themselves against the sides and replicated within his spherical form until it shattered from within.
Energiman realized that, wedding or no wedding, he had no choice but to summon his allies. Forgive me, Alyssa and Sigurd! he thought as he concentrated and sent a small flare of green energy over the horizon.
Seconds later, he flew upward toward the portal itself. “If I can’t stop them below, perhaps I can cut off their transportation.” At that he turned into a latticework of intricate microfibers that filled the opening of the portal and slowly crawled outward from each side until the tendrils became interwoven within the device itself. Ignoring the nearest invaders, he focused all of his power on infiltrating and destroying the portal that had brought the J’ai to Thronn.
A twinge of fear pulsed through his green energy form as he knew he might be expending far too much energy in his task, even as he began to realize how serious a threat this posed to Thronn. Energiman thought once more of the bizarre circumstances of his death and rebirth mere moments before the portal shuddered and began to implode.
At the wedding ceremony, Sigurd and Alyssa were concluding their union with a kiss while their friends cheered.
Magicko, the gaunt scientist supreme, scowled as he saw the glowing green message in the sky. “By the nebulae!” he cried. “We are needed! There will be no time for a reception now!”
Glancing over to where Sigurd and Alyssa had been standing, he saw that the couple had already noticed the signal and were about to race off in response.
“Old friend, can you equip us with your power?” asked Sigurd, alias Golden Blade.
Magicko nodded and made a cybernetic adjustment to his microscopic matter-transformer. Instantly, Alyssa was dressed in her customary bright red and blue tights and tunic, while Sigurd’s golden armor and powerful golden sword appeared over his gray wedding garb.
Leaping forward, Alyssa cried, “Magicko, you owe me one wedding dress!”
Magicko smiled at his friends as he activated his anti-gravity sphere and lifted them all toward the sky. “I assure you, Alyssa, my scan-sensors have the ability to reproduce your gown down to the finest fiber!” he said.
Sigurd roared with laughter as he said, “I think that means our bachelor friend was so captivated by your beauty that he was staring at you!”
The trio reached the scene of battle where Energiman had already dissipated into nothingness amidst the swarm of insect-like beings.
“By the power of the Norns!” cried Golden Blade as he charged forward and brought his magical golden sword down into the sea of invaders. He was strong and capable, and his gleaming sword could slice through anything. Thus, he succeeded in cutting a path through the invaders. Unfortunately, he soon realized that his tactic was doomed to failure, when every cut brought forth a replica of the original invader.
Alyssa, alias Strong Girl as Sigurd had named her heroic identity years ago, was able to bound across the landscape in a series of jumps with her super-strong legs, but even as she tossed invaders over her head and drew closer to her husband, she felt a chill wash over her body. We cannot stop them! she realized. They are an army!
The blonde Amazon kicked and fought her way to Sigurd, who had used the significant power of his own golden sword to gather the disparate energies of their comrade. “Hold on, friend!” he began. “We will get you to safety. Magicko will be able to restore you!”
Energiman flickered weakly but managed to say, “No. There is no coming back for me this time. I am honored to have been your friend!” His energy form pulsed once more, and then dissipated completely.
After trying once more to locate his old friend’s energies in vain, Golden Blade shouted in fury, “They will pay for this!”
Reaching his side, Alyssa clasped her husband’s arm. “Sigurd, we can’t stop them!”
Teleporting into their midst, Magicko said, “I was able to shunt some of them away from the immediate vicinity, but even that tactic won’t work on so many.”
Tackling a group of J’ai warriors, Alyssa knocked them out. But even as they fell, they split into new invaders, and Strong Girl soon found herself pulled down beneath their teeming masses.
Golden Blade kicked and punched his way to her side moments before the blonde warrior woman erupted from beneath the mob.
“They are truly relentless!” she cried.
“My scans place their point of origin as Zonn,” said Magicko. “Why would they come here? We have no connection to that world, as either ally or foe!”
Golden Blade spun his sword around, allowing a star-bolt to erupt from its point. “I can stun them as well, but for every one that falls, eight more arise!” he said.
“They don’t talk,” noted Magicko. “I think the antennae on their heads serve as a means of communication. I could try to break into the wavelength they use and find some weakness!”
Using his keen mind, Magicko attempted to cybernetically detect and then intercept a silent form of mental telepathy or insect group-mind communication, but his efforts to tap into their alien minds proved fatal. The scientist supreme screamed as his eyes widened in horror, and his keen mind was literally lost amid the mental chatter of the horde of insect invaders.
“He’s dead!” Alyssa cried in horror as she caught his body and realized he was truly gone.
“Get back to the city,” Golden Blade said in an unusually subdued tone. “I’ll try to hold them off.”
Alyssa shook her head and said, “I won’t leave you!”
Grabbing her in his arms, Sigurd shouted, “Alyssa, I can’t argue now. You must go!”
Touching his face with one hand, she said, “I stand by your side, now and forever!”
Sigurd smiled bleakly and said, “So be it! I love you, and I always will!”
Alyssa kissed him and said, “I love you, too!”
Strong Girl and Golden Blade, the last survivors of the Honor Team of Thronn, stood back to back as the insect hordes closed in on them.