After landing nearby, Pulsar flew over the alien horde and began to circle them at superhuman speed, and urged Skyman to do the same thing as well.
The two men were moving at an incredible rate of speed. As they circled again and again, a vortex formed that loomed over the helpless J’ai, slowly exerting a gravitational pull that swept the army up and through the opening of the strange crack in the sky.
“Where are they being taken?” asked Johnny Kirk. “I don’t want to kill them!”
As their super-swift vibrations hurled the aliens into another dimension, Pulsar shouted back at the young man, “It’s uninhabited! My father theorized about the existence of such dimensions. Without our kind of super-speed, the aliens will be trapped where we send them!” Though secretly, Bob Altus thought, I don’t really care where those monsters end up, to be honest. I don’t exactly share Johnny’s naïve ideas of right and wrong!
They found themselves looking down at the now-empty space below them as their vortex dissipated, and they flew in a straight line toward the city.
“That was amazing!” said Johnny. “I mean, Superman taught me how to do things like that, but even he never applied that technique in such a way!”
“Superman relies on brute force,” replied Pulsar. “He seldom needs to use any true finesse with his raw power.”
Johnny frowned, but bit back his retort. He didn’t appreciate anyone saying anything negative about his old mentor, even if he still had a few things he wanted to say himself to the man who had all too briefly been his father.
As they reached the others, they saw a solemn sight as the people of Thronn had already begun mourning for their lost heroes. Word had spread swiftly, and Alyssa’s distraught expression had spoken volumes, as had the bodies of Golden Blade and Magicko. Crowds had gathered to mourn and to find some assurance that their world would not fall to the aliens should they return.
“What did you two do?” asked Brice Rogers. “We saw it on a monitor, but it was just a blur!”
Pulsar explained, “The Flash was always able to vibrate at super-speed and travel into other dimensions. I wagered that, by acting together, Skyman and I could generate enough of a pull to draw the whole horde into such an opening. Without their teleportation system, which was apparently destroyed, I can’t imagine that these persistent-yet-sluggish invaders could ever free themselves from such a place!”
Star Sapphire smiled as she stared at Pulsar with something akin to approval. “Clever!” she said. “Very clever!”
Sbrogan approached them and said, “You have saved my home. You have also saved my daughter. I thank you all. If you would be willing to consult with our scientists, we may create defenses of our own to prevent future attacks by the J’ai.”
“I will be glad to help you,” said Pulsar. “It should not be difficult for you to produce sonic- or light-based weapons as a start!”
“With our combined speed, we could create and manufacture the kind of protection you need!” added Johnny.
Stacy Macklin remained quiet as she tried to come to terms with what had happened. This world is much like Earth, and yet its heroes have been lost, she thought. What if something like that happened to Superman, Batman, and all the others we count on to defend our world?
“We have done our part,” said Star Sapphire. “Surely, we may now leave these people to mourn in private while we continue on to Kronis.”
Brice shook his head in disgust. What a cold, calculating witch! he thought.
Sbrogan said to them, “I don’t know what brought you here, or what goals you seek, but the J’ai were not our enemies before this day, nor did they possess science enough to teleport here. They were sent by some other source and by some master with more deliberate motives. That kind of being could prove a peril to all who travel the spaceways!”
Star Sapphire drew herself up proudly and said, “As the chosen warrior queen of Zamaron, I am more than capable of dealing with any threat!”
“Or of becoming the prize of such a being!” replied Sbrogan.
Star Sapphire tossed her hair angrily and said, “I am no pretty plaything, and I will not waste my time here any longer!”
“Time spent learning is never time wasted!” said a voice from the shadows.
They turned to see a startling sight as Magicko, the scientist supreme, appeared before them to their shock.
“I thought he was dead!” cried Johnny.
“He is dead,” said Sbrogan. “His remarkable technology was able to generate a holographic display in his image. It is truly nothing more than a talking picture of our late hero.”
“That’s amazing,” said Brice Rogers, “but how was it created?”
“He was a genius,” Sbrogan replied with a shrug. “He had invented devices that could activate in the event of his demise.”
“I don’t understand,” said Star Sapphire. “Are you saying that this image is some kind of pre-programmed response to the death of the real man?”
The holographic version of Magicko spoke as if in answer to the sultry woman’s question. “If you are seeing this image, then my creator has died. However, in the case of any accident, his scanners were constantly in operation, and I may inform you of the nature of his death!”
Stacy Macklin drew closer and said, “What can you tell us about the aliens?”
“My creator was killed by aliens from the orange sun system of Zonn,” replied the hologram of the scientist supreme. “The replicating J’ai warriors were not without their own modifications. A prolonged deep tissue scan revealed that each J’ai had been a duplicate, as was the norm, but the original or prime J’ai had been altered on a genetic level. An echinoderm had been grafted to the prime J’ai before replication occurred in order to create the horde.”
Johnny Kirk frowned and said, “Wait, if I recall my high school science studies, an echinoderm is a common sea star or starfish!“
Interrupting, Brice explained, “A starfish grafted to a living being makes me think of one of my old NASA briefings. On a number of occasions, the JLA fought an alien invader called Starro the Conqueror. It was an alien being that resembled a giant starfish, and it could control other beings by attaching itself or miniature versions of itself to their central nervous systems. We were briefed on it in our astronaut training because there was always the possibility that we might encounter such a being during our space missions.”
Stacy nodded and said, “I had the same training. Are you suggesting that this invasion was the work of Starro?”
Magicko began to flicker out of sight as the holographic image lost power. “Scans suggest a matching energy signature! Our invaders were, in truth, one single invader replicated many times and under the direct control of Starro!”
As he faded from view, Sbrogan sighed heavily. “He is truly gone,” she replied. “Magicko, Sigurd, and Energiman are all at peace now, but their killer has at least been identified!”
“Starro?” said Star Sapphire. “Why would a giant alien starfish want to invade this world? Surely he couldn’t also be behind the waves of cosmic energy we’ve encountered!”
Pulsar came into view and said, “I’ve managed to help your people create rudimentary weapons designed to hold off future invasions by the J’ai. I heard what you all said, though I must admit that I scarcely remember Starro, since I stopped following any news stories on super-heroes or villains after losing my own powers.”
“He will die for taking my beloved from me!” declared Alyssa as she stepped out of the shadows.
“My daughter, you should be resting and mourning!” cried Sbrogan as she rushed forward to comfort her daughter.
Alyssa shook her head, sending her long blonde locks tumbling in disarray. “I owe it to Sigurd to avenge his death,” she said. “I will have time to mourn when that is done. I will have a lifetime to grieve, in truth!”
Light gleamed on her outfit as she stepped into the light. She was now wearing a golden breastplate along with a brief armored skirt and golden laced sandals. Sigurd’s golden sword rested on one hip. “I have modified Sigurd’s armor,” she explained. “I wear it and carry his sword in his memory. I am no longer Strong Girl. I wish to be called Golden Blade in his honor!”
“And you presume to challenge Starro on your own?” scoffed Star Sapphire, unconsciously feeling threatened by the powerful woman.
“If necessary, but I also wish to join your group,” replied Alyssa. “I feel as though your own quest will lead me toward Starro.”
“You may join us,” said Stacy, “but we have been shown that Kronis the prison world is linked to our own destinies. That’s where we’re going next.”
Alyssa nodded and dropped to one knee with her golden sword extended from one slender hand. “My blade is yours until justice is served!” she vowed.
Sbrogan clasped her daughter’s arm and smiled weakly. “So be it! I am proud of your fighting spirit!”
Star Sapphire said nothing, but merely thought, I hardly need another person tagging along like this. Still, this Amazon may prove a useful ally. Her brawn might be something I can use, and she doesn’t seem to have any plans that would challenge my own!
“OK, then, Alyssa, please join us on our trip to Kronis!” said Stacy. The beautiful blonde smiled warmly at the Thronnian shield-maiden as she thought, It’s easy enough for me to make such an invitation, of course, since I really have no idea what kind of beings we’ll find at a planet devoted to containing cosmic criminals!