Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Legion Overview Question and an Answer

“T” commented on Legion of Super Heroes Overview, Part 3:

"Wow, Jim, I'm sorry to hear about all the trouble you had while on Legion of Super-Heroes. I get the feeling Mark Waid probably went through something similar when he returned to The Flash. His LoSH run doesn't read like it went through too much editorial interference, but I bet it was a little disconcerting when Justice League of America brought back the original incarnation of the team, instead of using Mark and Barry Kitson created.

Anyway, great overview. You had a lot of good ideas and it's a shame not all of them made it into print. I'll be honest, though, I'm a little confused by the rationale for Invisible Kid becoming Stealth? How did his attraction to Gazelle convince IK that he was a woman stuck in a man's body? Maybe I missed something...

Also, was bringing back Sun Boy your idea? I was glad he came back, but I notice it's not in the original overview."


ANSWER:

Because of developments in reboots subsequent to my run on the LSH in the 1960's, there had been much discussion and suggestion for years that Invisible Kid was gay and had gender issues. My intent was merely to follow through and pay off on what others had teed up for me.

Halfway through my story, while at the Baltimore Con, Dan DiDio invited me to breakfast.  The main subject of discussion: Dan informed me that I had to write Karate Kid and Duo Damsel out of my story because Geoff Johns was using them in some storyline of his. I asked how Johns had the right to usurp those characters. Dan said that Johns was so late with his scripts that his books went in and out of the house before things like that could be reviewed and considered, much less changed. He had written the beginnings of his story, which made it to print, and therefore it was fait accompli. My scripts, on the other hand, were far ahead of schedule, and therefore, could still be changed. Reward lateness, punish the guy who's ahead of schedule....

ASIDE:  DC required that writers provide six-month overviews, well in advance, to head off such continuity clashes. I always delivered my overviews promptly. I doubt that Johns bothered. I may have been one of few who did deliver the overviews. One of them follows this answer.

Furthermore, DiDio said, one Johns' book -- JLA -- sold nearly 100,000 copies a month, which made him their number one writer. He had clout. I didn't.

I pointed out that with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and other household name stars, that if Johns was selling only 100,000, he was leaving DC short a few hundred thousand a month, in my opinion.

No winning that fight.

The sad thing is, as it turned out, Johns was using the seventies versions of the LSH characters. There was no real need at all to change my story.

The DC DiDiocracy in action....

I think re-introducing Sun Boy was the editor's idea. Fine by me.

Here's a sample DC six-month overview, required ostensibly to help coordinate continuity.  DC provided a template with specific questions to be answered:  SERIES TITLE:, ISSUE #:, COVER DATE:, STAND ALONE ISSUE: Y/N:, SYNOPSIS:, GUEST STARS:, VILLAINS: and MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:.

SERIES TITLE:  THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES

Jim Shooter (w), Francis Manapul (p), Livesay (i)


ISSUE #:  40
COVER DATE:  May 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 1 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 4th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS:  “Headlong Into Darkness” 
To save her world, Shadow Lass fights alone against a Life-Eradicator—and the mystery of their nature and origin deepens.  Meanwhile, conflict between Timber Wolf and Saturn Girl violently explodes.  Has Lightning Lad abjectly failed as Legion Leader?  Yes and no….
GUEST-STARS:  None
VILLAINS:  Alien Life-Eradicators from beyond the known universe; also Deputy Health Minister Bootweeze 
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  PRINCESS PROJECTRA snaps!  The loss of her world, her fortune and her station drives her to irrational, even murderous rage—a hint of things to come. 

_____________________________________________________

ISSUE #:  41
COVERDATE:  June 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 2 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 5th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS:  “Busted” 
With uncanny, newfound, hideous strength, Princess Projectra rampages in downtown Metropolis, and even Timber Wolf isn’t powerful enough to stop her.  A mysterious intruder, M’RISSEY, seems to be stealthily undermining the Legion.  Invisible Kid, Brainiac 5 and Saturn Girl attempt to spy on a secret United Planets operation—and the Legion is BUSTED!
GUEST-STARS:  None
VILLAINS:  A Life-Eradicator that will not die!
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  Guest Penciler: Aaron Lopresti, Guest Inker: Matt Ryan.  And, introducing the UNITED PLANETS YOUNG HEROES!  Stand aside, Legionnaires.

_____________________________________________________


ISSUE #:  42
COVERDATE:  July 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 3 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 6th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS:  “Fear and Clothing” 
An all-out combat issue with Legionnaires in spectacular super-action!  The war against the dreaded Life-Eradicators draws a team of Legionnaires, including Ultra Boy, into an epic battle on Rimbor, his home world—where, by the way, he is wanted for MURDER!   
GUEST-STARS:  None
VILLAINS:  A new, deadlier generation of Alien Life-eradicators and the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Zilya Popoff
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  The Legionnaires get NEW COSTUMES!

_____________________________________________________

ISSUE #:  43
COVERDATE:  August 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 4 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 7th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS:  “The Leader Who Lost the Legion”
While Science Police search parties ransack the HQ, two away teams of Legionnaires fight like cornered wolverines against vicious enemies on strange and distant worlds.  Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 SELLS OUT the Legion’s greatest secret—the technology of the FLIGHT RING!  New villains, stunning action and the United Planets SHUTS THE LEGION DOWN!
GUEST-STARS:  Special appearances by GAZELLE, SPY, VOICE and SONAR of the United Planets Young Heroes
VILLAINS:  Introducing IKILLES, Pirate-King of the marauding IKONN space pirates.  Also, the beautiful, powerful, deadly Pirate-Queen CAZHMIR. 
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  Two Legionnaires make their LAST APPEARANCE!  KARATE KID and TRIPLICATE GIRL are GONE FOREVER, taken a thousand years into the future by the KNIGHTS TEMPUS! 

_____________________________________________________

ISSUE #:  44
COVERDATE:  September 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 5 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 8th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS:  “Operational Calculus”
On planet Velmar V, Invisible Kid singlehandedly defeats IKILLES, and frees Light Lass who, displaying startling power, trounces the IKONNS.  On planet Rimbor, Ultra Boy and the team fiercely battle heavily-armed Science Police—and Atom Girl gets into a one-on-one catfight with the brutal S.P. COMMODORE.  Meanwhile, at the HQ, the mysterious M’RISSEY—a good guy, as it turns out—saves the whole LSH organization just in time to prevent the Rimbor team from being overrun!
GUEST-STARS:  None
VILLAINS:  IKILLES, CAZHMIR and the murderous IKONNS!  Also, the COMMODORE and an ARMY of Science Police at her command bent on taking down the Legionnaires on Rimbor, and on Earth, S.P. Colonel Pismo.
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  Alternate cover by the great NEAL ADAMS!

_____________________________________________________

ISSUE #:  45
COVERDATE:  October 2008
SYNOPSIS:  “Monster in Our Midst”
A Saturn-sized INTRUDER PLANET suddenly appears in solar space, and its gravity threatens to destroy the Solar System!  Brainiac 5 forces Light Lass and Star Boy to achieve new, unbelievable levels of power, and averts gravitational catastrophe.  Meanwhile, Lightning Lad and Element Lad “pacify” the dangerous, rampaging BLUDGEON BROTHERS.  And Saturn Girl is caught cheating on Lightning Lad…with Ultra Boy!
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 1 of 4 of the “Enemy Manifest” sub-arc; also the 9th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
GUEST-STARS:  None
VILLAINS:  The BLUDGEON BROTHERS, the INTRUDER PLANET
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  The LSH is no longer a servant of the United Planets—they’re free, independent and, furthermore, granted status as an INTERPLANETARY CONSERVATOR ORGANIZATION, which gives them DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY!  Free at last!

_____________________________________________________

ISSUE #:  46
COVERDATE:  November 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 2 of 4 of the “Enemy Manifest” sub-arc; also the 10th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS:  “Imperatrix”
The “monster in our midst,” the “evil rising,” the “evil manifest” is revealed—It’s PRINCESS PROJECTRA!  She possesses newfound powers drawn from the spirits of the dead of her destroyed homeworld Orando, and with a small, loyal band of subjects who survived, she plots an ascent to her “proper” station as Queen of the Galaxy.  Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 discovers that the Intruder Planet is the source of the Life-Eradicators, and a tense vigil begins.  Ultra Boy, overwhelmed with guilt over his tryst with Saturn Girl, winds up in a barroom brawl with a group of United Planets Young Heroes wannabies. 
GUEST-STARS:  None
VILLAINS:  Princess Projectra; the BUGGLIES: FLEA, TSETSE, SLUGG, ROACH, LOUSE, and SKEETER; and the INTRUDER PLANET/LIFE-ERADICATORS
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  PRINCESS PROJECTRA, now the SPIRIT QUEEN of ORANDO, is revealed as the arch-enemy of the United Planets, the Legion and all it stands for. 

_____________________________________________________

ISSUE #:  47
COVERDATE:  December 2008
SYNOPSIS:  “Blind Love”
Brainiac 5 visits a spiritualist, MEANDER, in an attempt to understand the “visitations” by the ghost of his beloved Dream Girl that take place in his dreams.  Meander allows Dream Girl’s spirit to occupy her body so that she and Brainiac 5 can have a “date” that culminates in a marriage proposal.  Princess Projectra, who now has vast powers over the ids of her victims, frees horrific, inner demons that Brainiac 5 had suppressed who BLIND Dream Girl’s spirit before Brainiac 5 can cast them out or destroy them—thus eliminating the threat of Dream Girl’s predicting and ruining her plans.    
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N:  No.  This issue is Part 1 of 2 of the “Dream Wedding” sub-arc; also the 11th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
GUEST-STARS:  None
VILLAINS:  The vicious and powerful uberdemon IDJIT and his deadly hench-demons, BITER, BEATER and LAFF
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:  Guest penciler: Rick Leonardi, Guest Inker:  ??? (MIKE!)  Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl get engaged—and that’s a little tricky, considering that she’s dead!  Introducing MEANDER, Mistress of the Mysterious.  Dream Girl’s spirit form is BLINDED—including the loss of her precognitive ability!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tributes

JayJay here. Jim has written many wonderful and moving introductions and tributes to the people he has known over the years. Here are some more. 

Dave Cockrum

When I first moved to New York City in 1976, as it happened, Dave had a room to rent and I needed a place to live.  We didn’t know each other at all, but it worked out fine for the eight months or so I stayed there.  Dave was good-natured, easygoing and easy to get along with—also, totally honest and honorable.  The place was great.  I tended to avoid the room where he kept the snakes and lizards.  They stunk.  Or, I guess, some of what they ate stunk.  Anyway…. 

Dave was drawing the Uncanny X-Men back then and I was working on staff at Marvel and writing the Legion of Super-Heroes for DC—that seems odd, I know, but it’s a strange biz.  Anyway, Dave loved kibitzing on my LSH stories.  He always had good suggestions and insightful comments.  Both of us loved the LSH.  Dave had his drawing table set up in what otherwise would have been the dining room, just off the kitchen.  I did most of my “homework” and writing sitting on the living room couch, in sight of his workspace.  We’d talk.  Not the best thing to do while I was trying to write, but we had some really great conversations about work, life, the world and what could be done about all of the above. 

Dave and I worked together a good bit while we were both at Marvel, and a few times after that.  Dave was a great artist and an amazing creator.  His work and his creations changed comics dramatically, irrevocably, forever.  Let me emphasize that: he changed the paradigm.  If you don’t know that, it’s because you don’t know enough about what went on to know that, and because you never worked with him.  He doesn’t get nearly enough credit. 

Through thick and thin and thinner and thinner, Dave and I always remained friends.  Even when being a friend of mine wasn’t fashionable. 

I’ll miss you, Dave.  This world is significantly poorer without you.


Paul S. Newman

For decades, Paul S. Newman wrote Turok Son of Stone. During its long run, the marketplace underwent dramatic changes. No matter. Trends flourished and vanished. So what? Turok was a constant, a unique, all-weather, all-terrain title built to last. That’s amazing. Paul was King of the comic book writers indeed.


Will Eisner

Will Eisner was good and kind to me when that was not fashionable.  He was always glad to see me no matter what the fanzines and fatheads were saying about me at the time.  He had been unjustly vilified more than once during his long career, so he saw right through the nonsense.  We were friends.  We had many long talks about the business and life in general.  Though he was thirty-four years older than me, we had a great deal in common in terms of experiences in the business, the never ending battle for truth, justice and distribution, fatheads, etc.  Will always made me feel that “…this, too, shall pass away,” no matter how bad “this” was.  Press on, he said.  I did.  Wise, thoughtful, brilliant, insightful—what a man.  What a loss for all of us his death is.  It is only polite to mention that he was a genius, but you already knew that.

Good-bye, Will.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hall of Famers

I thought these might be of interest.  Each of the last two years, I was asked to write intros for all-time greats who were being inducted into the Overstreet Hall of Fame.  It was an honor.

Archie Goodwin

Ask the average fan to name the greatest creators in the history of comics and the name Archie Goodwin will not leap to the minds of many, because so much of Archie’s brilliant work was behind the scenes or flew under the mainstream radar. But ask the creators with whom he worked! Ask other all-time great writers, artists, editors and creators! Gather the elders, the best of the best and ask them! His name will be among the first mentioned. Archie Goodwin was an amazing writer with outstanding story sense, penetrating insight, a gift for dialogue, an effortless knack for character, a flair for drama and utter mastery of the art of delivering the payoff. His sheer creativity ranks with the best ever. He was an all-time great editor and teacher. He made everyone he worked with better. On top of that, Archie Goodwin was a fine, wonderful, noble and honorable soul, loved and respected by everyone because he deserved it. This industry may never see his like again. How sad. He is desperately missed.

Chris Claremont

 
Chris Claremont has written many wonderful things. He's passionate about everything he writes. Especially notable, of course, is his work on the X-Men. Chris gets a good deal of credit for the success of the X-Men, but not nearly as much as he deserves. Not only did he do an outstanding job as writer, he built the team that built the team. He recruited artists when needed. He made sure the lettering and coloring were consistent and top drawer. He spent time, effort and money out of his own pocket to insure the quality of the book. He sweated the details. He fought like a Wolverine to defend the integrity of his vision, his work, his words. If there's a Hall of Fame for Caring, Trying and Outworking Everyone, he should be there, too. Babe Ruth didn't create the Yankees and Chris Claremont didn't create the X-Men, but each of them built the house.


Neal Adams




Neal Adams is one of the greatest artists our medium has ever known. He is also the single most influential artist in the history of comic book publishing. An amazing number of artists, including many whose styles are nothing like Neal's, many you'd never guess, started out trying to emulate Neal. He has personally trained a small army of artists. Not only a master of the visual, Neal writes as well, and also does, it seems, whatever else he wishes to with ease and grace. His brilliance extends beyond the printed page. He works with light, motion and sound. He creates three-dimensionally. Any medium is his medium. And, everything he does, he does with rare excellence. He brings insight to any endeavor. Most importantly, he truly creates. New ideas. Original thoughts. Genesis! Beyond that, he has always been a force in the industry -- a righter of wrongs, a bringer of change, a leader. Neal is a genius and a giant who has lifted up us all. 


And here's a tribute to Murphy Anderson I was asked to write a long time ago.  I know that few people have seen this.  

Murphy Anderson

Murphy Anderson is one of those artists like Russ Heath, Alex Toth and Al Willliamson that fans don’t talk about as much as they should, but about whom professionals speak with reverence. 

Hall of fame.  All-time great.  Grandmaster.

I run into Murphy at conventions often.  He’s invariably the best-dressed person there.  It’s a sign of respect for the audience.  The gesture is lost on most of the attendees, I suspect, but I don’t think it matters to Murphy whether they get it or not.  He’s not doing it for attention.  It’s just the way he is.  

Always impeccable.  Uncannily wrinkle free.  Also, have you noticed that he doesn’t age?  A deal with the devil?  Nah.  The devil wouldn’t get near him for fear of being infected with civility.  Maybe it’s his super power—no wrinkles anywhere. 

The only person as nice as Murphy is his lovely wife Helen.   

He’s also a gentleman.  In the wonderful, old-fashioned sense.  How rare in this business.  How rare in this world.

Gracious.  Considerate.  Sincere.

Murphy Anderson.  What an outstanding artist.  What an outstanding man.  I am honored and privileged to know him.


Jim Shooter 

Legion of Super Heroes Overview, Part 3

JayJay here. In 2007 Jim returned to DC Comics to write the Legion of Super Heroes again after 31 years. Unfortunately everything didn't go as planned for the series. Here is the last part of the plot overview. 

Also... More and different stuff will be posted later today!

(Continued from yesterday's blog)

SG checks the Duty Roster.  PP’s location also does not appear. 

SG tracks PP to her lair, picking up clues from the minds of people who saw her pass.  It’s almost too easy.  Does PP want SG to find her?

SG follows the trail to an ancient building on a lower level of the city.  Once, it was a cathedral.  Long ago it was stripped of religious icons—only the building’s basic architecture identifies its origins.  It has been converted into a palace of sorts for PP by her subjects.  It’s not nearly as posh as her former residence, but it’s a step in the right, royal direction….  

SG enters.  A heavy door slams shut behind her.  SG enters the throne room.  PP is seated on a throne.  TW is crouched at her feet, and she’s petting him like a dog—make that wolf. 

As SG enters, a number of PP’s attending subjects hasten away, leaving them.  TW, too, lopes away to another chamber at a sign from PP.  Doors close.  Now it’s only PP and SG, locked in here together.  No potential pawns to manipulate.  PP tells SG that her ring does her no good here.  One of PP’s subjects is a thaumaturge-alchemist who lined this chamber with a magical metal proof against any transmission—including SG’s telepathy. 

SG wonders where the money for all this came from.  Some from her subjects, some from various other sources.  There is wealth all around.  When one can create illusions, it is easy to acquire. 

Grand theft, says SG.

Restitution, says PP—the bare beginnings of it.  She holds the U.P. responsible for the destruction of Orando.  And, for that matter, the LSH, as well.  Why didn’t they prevent it?

SG has heard enough.  She invades PP’s mind.  She sees what is happening to PP, what she’s turning into.  It terrifies her. 

PP feels Saturn Girl’s intrusion.  She fights back, furiously.

Telepath versus empath.

Huge battle. 

Saturn Girl’s power is largely front brain, command and control, with some ability to plumb the darker depths.  PP’s power is largely back brain oriented.  Vision is a mid and back brain phenomenon, and therefore so are illusions.  Now, with her powers augmented, PP can ferret her way further into the non-verbal spheres of the mind to manipulate the id, the imagination, instincts, desires, fundamental animal drives and fears.

Ironically, SG introduced PP to this mode of combat in Death of a Dream.

Saturn Girl loses.  PP sinks her psychic talons deep into Saturn Girl’s subconscious, subverting her ironclad grip on reality.  Now, PP can subtly change Saturn Girl’s frame of reference, cast doubts, blur the line between real and imagined, confuse her, manipulate her, and to some extent, control her.

This is the watershed.  PP has cast her lot. 

PP needed to have this confrontation and overcome SG.  SG is—make that was—the biggest threat to her and her ambitions.

(BTW, PP obviously did the same sort of thing to TW as she did to SG.)

SG is released, seemingly unharmed.  She returns to HQ.  Where was she?  Hmm.  Just…walking.  Yes, just took a stroll, that’s all.  Moments later PP and TW also return to the HQ.

Later, PG awakens from her coma.  Lightning Lad asks her what happened.  PG says…“I fell.”

Well, that’s obviously not what happened.  Lightning Lad commands Saturn Girl to probe PG’s mind.  SG is reluctant and guilty and deeply troubled, as she was the first time she ventured into PG’s mind (of which she has no clear memory!  PP muddled her awareness of that!).  But, SG complies.  SG probes, ponders…. 

“She fell,” say SG.

PP smiles.

The U.P. President calls.  Emergency.  More than a hundred Intruder Planets have suddenly appeared in U.P. space.  They’re everywhere, in every system.  Since the LSH’s ad hoc heroics driving the first Intruder beyond damaging gravitational range, the U.P. has quickly developed and deployed equipment that can do the same.  It doesn’t work.  The Aliens have adapted….

Now what?  How do they fight 100+ planets?

They’re not planets, says B-5.  They’re immense AD ultra-lightspeed transport vehicles—giant ships full of ADs—the very latest generation.  Billions of them.  B-5 used technology gleaned from the ADs own data-ripper to analyze the first Intruder. 

B-5 unveils the ADs’ nature.  Informed by his recent experiences regarding Dream Girl, he has concluded that the ADs are not living things.  The have no souls/spirits, though he wouldn’t use the terms “souls” or “spirits.”  B-5 explains that the human brain, any brain, for that matter—is a field generator, and it is in the field of energy it creates that consciousness occurs.  If people choose to call an energy field a “spirit,” that’s their problem.  Anyway, the ADs don’t have ‘em.   

What ADs do have is an etheric link to a processing nexus in a computer network.  B-5 calls it the Infinity Net, a rough translation, he thinks, from the Aliens’ scratchy gurgles, which he was able to get a general grasp of pretty quickly. 

What’s it all mean?

B-5 realized that the corporeal ADs are AVATARS and the real aliens are VIRTUAL!!!!

(The story, revealed as the Legionnaires discover it is this: the Aliens are from near the center of the universe.  Theirs was one of the first intelligences to evolve.  Many tens of thousands of years ago, they remade themselves into virtual beings—perfect computer emulations of themselves—to escape the horrors and exigencies of material existence.  To them, material existence is inherently evil, totally evil.  With religious fervor they set out to destroy all material life and all of the material works of living things in the universe—Universal Annihilation!  They create digital templates of some things and some life forms deemed interesting or “worthy” before destroying them and keep them dormant in compressed storage—as a sort of archive of what reality once was.  Hence, they must wreak their destruction up close and personal for both evaluation and ultra-accurate data-ripping.  They may “save” as little as an example of a kind, or a few specimens, or as much as an entire civilization.) 

The Alien Destroyers have cut a swath of destruction across the face of physical existence.  As the Aliens’ home-base technology increased from half-lightspeed to near lightspeed, their more recent missions have actually caught up with and sometimes passed waves of Destroyers dispatched far earlier.

Then, when they mastered hyperspace travel and completed their Infinity Net, as B-5 previously surmised, they changed tactics.  Now they warp an armada of planet-sized AD transports into a galaxy…and wreak their destruction wholesale.  

But where’s the computer? LLad asks.  If the Aliens are digital, that means they’re inside some big computer somewhere, right?  Nope.  The entire universe is the “computer,” says B-5—the quantum field that exists everywhere is the “network.”  (I’ll explain this simply, succinctly and better in the script.  This notion is based on some real, heavy-duty physics, BTW.)   

B-5 realizes that the only way to attack the Aliens is virtually.  On their own quantum turf.

If there was time, perhaps he could do the reverse of the Aliens’ trick and create digital avatars to invade their virtual world.  Too high a level of sophistication required.  Sending in what he could whip up in a few hours would probably be like sending a squadron of biplanes to attack a Starfleet.

The only way is for the Legionnaires themselves to go digital.  You can do that? asks LLad.  B-5 thinks so.  He’ll get right on it. 

Meanwhile, the Intruders U.P.-wide disgorge their killer cargo.  Every inhabited place in the U.P. is under attack.  The U.P. forces fight back.  It’s a losing battle.

B-5 encodes a task force of LSHers and uploads their virtual selves into the virtual world of the Aliens.  Their inert bodies are left behind, mere masses of matter, devoid of life—the energy field that is their consciousness/spirit whatever accompanies their virtual forms.  The digitized group includes Gazelle, Ultra Boy, IK and others, TBD. 

Before being encoded, Invisible Kid approaches B-5 privately with a request.  IK has a datadisk in his hand.  He needs B-5’s help….

After the others are digitized, IK—there in the lab all along—appears.  He’s the last to be encoded and sent. 

The rest of the LSH stays to defend reality as best they can.  PG, not really well enough yet, gets out of the biorepair unit and back in the saddle.  She’s never really been hurt before—but she’s a Legionnaire, and her Courage Quotient is high.

Inside the Infinity Net, things are utterly real.  A perfect emulation is perfect.  No way to tell that this is happening in cyberspace.  “Do you feel digital?”  Nope.  This is no shifting dreamscape.  This is the Aliens’ real world.  To die here is to die, for Aliens and LSHers alike. 

All the LSHers look and seem exactly the same as their real selves inside the Aliens’ cyberspace world—except Invisible Kid.  IK looks older, bigger, stronger, more handsome, and, well…more macho!!!  He had B-5 “enhance” his virtual self, according to the info on the datadisk he provided.  B-5 agreed.  Why not?

Now, at last, IK’s ready for Gazelle to see him.  He’d managed to avoid it till now. 

The (revised) IK is the man G always imagined he would be, ever since he saved her life on Triton.  Too bad it took so long for them to finally meet face to visible face.  She’s entranced.

The other virtual Legionnaires can’t bloody believe what IK is doing.  It’s crazy.  The real universe may be eradicated, they all may die, and he’s worried about how he looks to a girl?  There’s some whispering and debating what to do or say if anything, including some telepathic pleading by IK via SG.  A sort of consensus to ignore this strangeness is reached.  They have a mission to focus on.

The Aliens’ world is beautiful and serene.  A really lovely world.  Did they expect it to be Mordor, or bristling with armaments and defenses?  No, but….  Of course it makes sense that this place isn’t an armed camp.  They wouldn’t expect to be attacked here.  The Aliens themselves are beautiful, though not human-looking.

In reality, the fighting is fierce.  The LSHers battle heroically.  As always, the ADs aggressively target the most dangerous opposition.  They concentrate on the LSH.  The Legionnaires fall back/are driven back to the HQ.

Meanwhile, in cyberspace, the Legionnaires make their way toward the processing nexus.  It takes days.  But time is different in here—only minutes have passed in reality.  B-5 is in touch with the “insiders,” via technology he took from the AD and modified.  The virtual world is not devoid of defenses.  Inevitably, the insiders are detected.  They fight their way toward the goal.

Never in their history have the Aliens been attacked in cyberspace.  They aren’t well equipped for this—they have no elaborate detection gear, and little in the way of sophisticated super weapons.  Not here.  Those sorts of things they thought only the AD/Avatars needed.

The insiders are able to overpower every patrol or military obstacle they encounter—until they are very near the nexus.      

IK and Gazelle have a battlefield romance.  She’s in love.  He seems tentative…. 

IK feels great in a way, and yet, somehow like a slimy, lying, stinking muskshrew.  This is wrong, but…here he is with this drop-down dead girl, who has fascinated him since the moment he saw her.  Dad would be so pleased and proud.  Yes…this is him being the man dad wants him to be.  Sure, this only works while he’s virtual, but…he’ll deal with reality when he gets back there…if they ever get back there.

The Aliens scramble forces to defend the already heavily-defended nexus, located inside a massive structure that’s essentially a fortress.  What detection gear the Aliens have, what sophisticated heavy weaponry they have is here.  And, the Aliens have 100,000 armed warriors between the insiders and their goal.

The insiders are hiding in a natural redoubt near the nexus.  They’re near exhausted from days of fighting, running and hiding.  No options left except frontal assault.

It looks hopeless.  They will rest a while, wait for nightfall and then…all or nothing. 

IK can’t live with the lie anymore.  He asks B-5 to de-modify him.

Back in reality, B-5 shouts at the comlink to IK that he’s a little busy.  The battle there is intense, desperate.  The ADs are breaking in! 

Please, says IK.  B-5 destroys several ADs.  Suddenly, he has a free second.  Oh, why not?

Gazelle finds IK, off by himself.  They’ll be moving out soon.  This may be one of the last moments of their lives, their last moment together….

IK transforms. 

Gazelle, shocked, backs away. 

It’s time.  The LSHers attack the nexus. 

Meanwhile, on Earth, the ADs overrun the lab.  THE ENCODED LSH-ERS’ BODIES ARE DESTROYED!!

PP is in her palace, witnessing the beginning of the destruction of Earth, and maybe all worlds.  She’s strangely serene about it.  If she has no world, then let no one have one.

Suddenly, a classic Shadowed Figure appears out of thin air before PP!  It might be…COSMIC BOY?  Nah, couldn’t be, and we don’t really let on.  After reaction/fear/consternation, etc., the SF gets PP to listen.  He has something for her.  A gift.  Something she’ll need if she is ever to succeed with her ambitions…. 

PP is grateful.  She touches the SF’s shadowed face.  He is…appealing, for a commoner.

In cyberspace, I don’t know how yet, but the insiders somehow win through and destroy the processor nexus!  It will involve some spectacular heroics by IK—another “McGyver” brilliant stroke.

In reality, the ADs collapse.  It’s over. 

In cyberspace, the vengeful, enraged Aliens surround the insiders.  They’re dead meat.
   
IK desperately transmits to B-5.  There’s no response from B-5.  Is he dead, is the comlink gone?  In the process of destroying the nexus, IK has figured out the secret of the quantum mechanism that enables the Infinity Net.  As the Aliens close in, IK rattles off code, not knowing whether anyone is hearing him.   At the last second, the virtual world itself seems to turn against the Aliens!  Someone has seized control!

Brainiac 5!  He now controls the entire Infinity Net and everything in it.

The Aliens surrender! 

It’s over.

The Aliens are expelled from the fortress.  It’s the insiders’ fort now.  Safe at last, weary to the bone, they rest.  B-5 is watching over them.

IK finds a secluded garden in the complex.  Gazelle finds him.  She’s furious with him.  Was it all a lie, or just his looks.  She shoves him around.  He makes no attempt to resist.  He feels like he deserves to be beaten up.

Suddenly, exhaustion catches up with Gazelle.  She runs out of energy.  Now weak and helpless, she’s at IK’s mercy.  IK picks a succulent, sweet, pear-like fruit from one of the trees and gives it to Gazelle, who devours it hungrily.  Her strength begins to return. 

Let’s see, where were we? IK asks.  He takes one of Gazelle’s hands and balls it into a fist and pulls her other hand up to his collar, where she’d been holding him as if to slug him—essentially recreating the position they’d been in before she’d collapsed.

Puzzled, nonplussed, Gazelle releases IK and backs away.  IK tries to explain.  About his father, about his own feelings, which have finally become clear to him—but G runs away.

B-5 tells IK that there’s just a liiiiiiittle problem that’s delaying his bringing them back.  He’s working on it, though.  B-5 finally admits that their bodies have been destroyed.  They discuss options.

IK spends the time waiting for B-5 to solve the liiiiiiittle problem exploring the fortress.  He finds the archives.  He tells B-5.

On Earth, B-5 uses the encoded data to make new, artificial bodies for the virtual Legionnaires.  They’re the same.  Exactly identical.  Except for one.

B-5 brings ‘em back.  

But are they “real” or Memorex?  B-5 argues that natural bodies are constantly being reconstructed/renewed.  Does it matter if it’s the exact same hydrogen, oxygen et al atoms (which are transient anyway) or that it’s exactly the same atom-by-atom physical structure that their consciousness, souls, whatever, inhabit?  That question will linger….

Invisible Kid’s new body is really new—he is now a she!!!  A girl!  And a hot one at that!  IK arranged with B-5 to borrow gender factors from, um another encoding to change him.  The outside, the sheathe of flesh is different, but the inside, IK’s essence/mind/spirit, whatever, is as it always was.  And now, the outside matches the inside better.  Call her Stealth or Covert.  She looks sort of like…a lot like Gazelle.

Gazelle is freaked, yet again.  IK/Stealth wants to talk.  G bounds away.

Stealth finds Gazelle on a high terrace.  Stealth approaches her.  If Gazelle really doesn’t want to talk, okay, but S feels she owes her an explanation and well, everything, frankly.  When IK first saw G, he was fascinated.  He finally sorted things out and realized that she was what he wanted to be.  With B-5’s help, it was possible.  He went for it. 

G is pondering, thinking a zillion miles a minute all through Stealth’s speech.  G seems to reach the threshold of understanding.  G asks if S can control his…uh, her metabolism like she can.  Nope.  B-5 counteracted the anomaly for S.  S figured that was G’s thing, so….  Are you saying that B-5 could have CURED me? G asks.  And no one gave me that option?!  Stealth gulps.  It was sort of assumed that everyone would want to be exactly as they were…except for me, S says.  And, to me, Stealth says, you’re so perfect…one in a trillion.  Who wouldn’t want to be you?  S certainly did.

Gazelle thinks for a while.  Maybe it is okay.  What seemed so bad on Triton is…okay here.  She fits.  At last. 

Friends? S asks.  Friends, says G.  They hug.  

Per B-5’s instructions, IK/Stealth has brought back with him/her a superchip containing all the data that the aliens accumulated over all the millennia that they pursued their quest—the data on a vast number of creatures, things and beings of every kind imaginable, a sort of “Noah’s Ark” of the universe.  What to do with that is a question….

B-5 takes it for “safekeeping” until its fate is decided.

And as for the Aliens?  B-5 has them contained. They exist, as they have, but in virtual space inside his supercomputer, not on the Infinity Net, which he shuts down.  It’s a dangerous thing to leave lying around.

So Brainy has a world in a computer—sort of conceptually similar to his alleged “ancestor’s” bottled cities.

LLad decides the fate of the superchip quickly.  He believes that they should turn the superchip over to the President.  Whatever problems they’ve had with the government, this is an issue for the beings of the galaxy to decide democratically, and, for better or worse, the U.P. government is the legally elected representation of the vast majority of those beings.  Said another way, this is too big for the LSH to decide, and the government is the highest available authority.

LLad demands that B-5 turn over the superchip. 

B-5, though, is reluctant to release it.  He’s “exploring” it…

He’s “cataloguing” it…

He’s busy…

He’s just about done…

LLad and others go to B-5’s lab to sieze the superchip.  Looks like a big confrontation.

Nah.  He surrenders the superchip.  He’s done.  LLad wonders what that was all about….

On the superchip, says B-5, are carefully selected samples of many races, many kinds.  Unlike traditional, Milky Way scientists, who would generally choose the most typical specimens, these aliens seemed to value the most remarkable, extraordinary examples of each kind.  Mostly what’s there are bizarre, lower life-forms.  Curiosities, really.  The aliens only succeeded in getting one sample from ancient Krypton, but…

KRYPTON?! says LLad….

Yes, says B-5.  He’s quite an amazing young man.  It took a great deal of effort and time to construct a body to such…incredible specs…but he succeeded.  Had to procure and use a lot of dwarf star material and exotic ultra-organics….

B-5 introduces LLad and the others to Super Lad.  (?)  Perhaps Superman’s great, great, great grandfather’s better, stronger, smarter brother?  Whatever.  We’ll work that out, and probably leave it mysterious for now.

B-5 has brought him up to date (uh-oh!).  He wants to try out for the Legion.

All of the available Legionnaires meet to ponder this startling new development. 

Suddenly, out of thin air, COSMIC BOY AND THE 41ST CENTURY LEGION (EQUIVALENT) APPEAR BEFORE THE LSH.

They’re here, says Cos, to save the future.  If a certain events here are not changed, time ends one day from when they left.

Cos will meet with LLad to discuss the matter in private.  First they need to recover from their temporal journey.  M’rissey arranges quarters for them.

The next day, Cos and LLad meet.  Cos explains everything.  For the first time ever in one of these Terminator type stories, the agent from the future simply asks for cooperation.  Cos says that the disaster that must be avoided is this: an evil power is arising.  If the LSH succeeds in stopping it, the future dies.  They MUST ALLOW this power to succeed—which will, frankly, cause a great deal of trouble in this time period—or the time ends in Cos’s new era.  There is no possible future beyond his time plus one day unless Princess Projectra achieves her goals.  Projectra? says LLad, stunned.  Cos continues:  She has become a very powerful, very dangerous person.  She has dark ambitions that would make your blood run cold.  Her success, however horrible that may be for now, will bring about the day when she will produce an heir whose descendants are the key to saving the future.

LLad asks Cos how sure he is of all this.  Absolutely sure, says Cos.  No question.  No doubt.  He shows LLad a holo-comp readout that categorically states that the probability is 100%.

When will this thing with PP happen? asks LLad.

It’s happening now, says Cos. 

And you want us to let her do whatever? LLad asks.

I can’t allow you to stop her, says Cos.  And…I’ve already helped her.

LLad tells Cos he thinks Cos better leave now. 

Cos knew he wouldn’t be able to convince LLad, but he had to try.  They are…were best friends.      

Meanwhile, as Cos and LLad are conferring, PP enters B-5’s lab complex.  She finds Praetor Lemnos—the author of the destruction of Orando—still in B-5’s custody, in stasis, unconscious.  She batters her way into his id.  There will be no peace for Praetor Lemnos.  She inflicts incredible horrors upon him.  Praetor Lemnos feels hundreds of slime-spiders crawling upon his helpless body.  They paralyze him with their venom, inject eggs deep into his flesh and vitals…the spiderlings hatch and eat their way out.  Praetor Lemnos feels fire consume him slowly.  Praetor Lemnos feels maggots devour his eyes.  Etc.  He will die inside a million times, until, eventually his own mind destroys the body that houses it in a desperate attempt to escape hell.  And then he will be thoroughly, irrevocably dead.  As is Orando.

Or is it?

B-5 accosts PP.  What is she doing here?  PP says, exacting justice.  B-5 realizes instantly that something’s way wrong here.  This is biiiig trouble.  He moves to contain her, subdue her…but suddenly he’s terrified, sleepy, debilitatingly sad/hungry/cold/weary/etc.  He’s helpless.  He may have protected himself against every Legionnaire’s powers, but she has powers he never knew about, couldn’t have anticipated. 

PP asks questions—she already suspects what the answers will be.  B-5 has studied the Aliens’ data-ripping technology.  He has a functional data-ripper.  Could he use it to rip the data for an entire world and everything, everybody on it?  Yes, he says, but the Aliens used a type of quantum memory to store data that’s unavailable.  He understands it, but building a unit with sufficient data storage capacity is another matter.  That’s a hell of a lot of data!  It would take time, resources…. 

SG steps out of the shadows.  At this point, having been relentlessly, empathically battered/tortured by PP, she is PP’s slave.  PP uses her to control B-5.  Under SG’s control, B-5’s brain will become her human hard-drive.  His brain will provide the data storage.

PP activates the Time Travel device, the “gift,” given to her by Cos.  She, SG and B-5 vanish.

They arrive in the past on Orando moments before its destruction.  Now, it is PP’s turn to be overwhelmed by emotion.  For a split-second, her dominance of SG and B-5 flickers.  B-5 thinks a plea….  Did SG catch it?  

At PP’s behest, B-5 data-rips the entire world.  The data is fed into his brain.

PP removes them from the surface.  She hesitates as the destruction of the planet begins.  Again, her control flickers.  SG nods acknowledgement to B-5.

PP returns them to the Legion’s present.

PP takes them to what was once a moon of Orando.  PP has a temporary HQ there, staffed by her loyal subjects. 

Under PP’s control, B-5 begins the process of rebuilding Orando, atom by atom from the debris left behind by its destruction.

Planet-building is hardly inconspicuous.  The U.P. sends a fleet to the scene.

The Legion tries to go to Orandoan space—but the 41st Century Legion bars their way.  Big battle.

PP uses her power to destroy the sanity of the fleet’s commanders.  The ships spiral recklessly out of control.

PP addresses the U.P. Council, breaking into their com-system.  She warns the U.P. not to interfere with her.  She means to recreate Orando.  She will then exact retribution from the U.P. for its temporary loss.  The U.P. will be punished and restitution shall be made.  Furthermore, to avoid any such lapses of security in the future, she will rule.  Orando will never again suffer due to their incompetence.

And the Legion will be exterminated….  They can do it, or she will.  If they don’t, well, there will be consequences for that, too. 

The Legionnaires receive word of the fleet’s danger.  LLad and others hold off Cos’s crew so some LSHers can go to the rescue.

Triplicate girl transmatters onto the bridges of three of them, sedates the officers and brings them under control.  Other Legionnaires perform similarly daring rescues.  One ship, plunging headlong into Orando’s sun is saved by Super Lad. 

Super Lad flies to the moon of Orando and confronts PP.  He stalks toward her.  Her planet has been destroyed.  Big deal.  So was his.  He attacks—but even he is not impervious to her power.  She crushes his will.  He is hers.

But this is no ordinary mind she’s dealing with.  Even PP can’t subdue an exceptional Kryptonian mind for long.  Super Lad eventually breaks her control and escapes.  The time he was there on the moon is a blank.  He doesn’t know how long it was or what happened.

While, on paper, Cos’s crew is superior, the LSH is winning!  LLad is a great commander.  Cos knew that from history, but this stuff never happened in the history he knows.  No way he could have anticipated this.

PP summons the shaman.  She, PP will address her peoples’ spirits.  With the shaman’s conjurings, she is able to do so.  She tells her people of her plan to restore Orando and their lives…and to bring Orando into its proper place of preeminence among all worlds.  They cheer.  The spirits of her parents do not.

No matter that the LSH is tougher than they thought.  Cos and co. fall back to a defensive position, protecting PP on her moon.  LLad and the LSH attack.

The reconstruction of Orando is completed—every detail, every building, every thing just as it had been.  The inert bodies of the entire population are recreated as well, waiting to be reinvested with consciousness.

PP and her troops transmatter to Orando.  She triggers destruct mechanisms on the moon to destroy her temporary base there and the LSH, still there.

Sizzle absorbs the explosive energy and turns it into light.

Nonetheless, the LSH is momentarily stunned, disoriented.  They gather themselves….

On Orando, PP has B-5 revive her parents’ bodies first (from the data stored in his brain, reinvesting the artificial bodies with her parents’ spirits, as with the “insider” Legionnaires).

To PP’s shock, her restored parents condemn her.  They know what she has done.  They know what she is doing.  She is a monster!  They cannot abide her!

IN A PAROXYSM OF RAGE, PP KILLS HER OWN PARENTS!  AGAIN!

Realization of what she’s done washes over PP.  She cringes in horror.  In that moment, her control over SG flickers.

An aide rushes in and asks PP what’s wrong.  PP (whose back is to the aide) straightens up and turns—queen-like and regal again.  She will not let an inferior see her as weak.

SG breaks away, mentally from PP.  She’s struggling to get oriented, get her head clear. 

PP attacks SG, psychically and physically battering her horribly.

The LSH arrives.

SG overcomes the pain, anxiety, terror, weakness.  With a supreme effort she WIPES B-5’s MIND!!!!  The data is gone! 

So is B-5’s mind!  Tabula rasa!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Horrified, E-lad says to SG, you killed them all!  SG says, you can’t kill dead people.

Big battle.   

During the battle, PP retreats to her inner sanctum.  Her living subjects are with her.  Here, they will make their stand.  PP gathers her strength, the strength of billions of very angry Orandoan spirits.

The 41st Century Legion is defeated.

The Legionnaires attack PP.  PP, with incredible empathic force backs down the LSH—till Phantom Girl rises through the floor in front of her and, turning solid, punches her right in the nose.

PP staggers back.  She’s enraged.  She pulls out the ace up her sleeve.  She planted an impulse in Super Lad’s id.  He turns on the Legion!  He rips up the part of the building they’re in and hurls it into space.  PP wants to follow, force him to kill them.  If he gets too far away, if she doesn’t reinforce this killer rage she implanted, he’ll fail to exterminate them…but something makes her hesitate.  The shaman confirms what she senses.

The shaman and others convince her that she must retreat.  No more fighting.  For now.  PP and her subjects flee. 

In space, SG forcibly frees Supes.  Thanks, but, his own super mind had just about overcome the planted impulse anyway.

The LSH returns to Orando.  No sign of PP or anyone anywhere.  They got away.

The Legionnaires return to where they left the defeated 41st Century Legion.  They’re coming to, freeing themselves. 

Their attempt to alter the past to save the future failed.  They will return to face the certain end of time.  LLad reminds Cos that any messing with the past puts the future “in play.”  What does his holo-comp say now.  Cos checks.  99.999%. 

All right then.  They now have a .001% chance.  Together, LLad and Cos have faced tougher odds.  You’re heroes, says LLad.  I have faith in you.  Go save the universe.

The 41st Century Legion heads home.  They remote-destruct the time device Cos gave PP.

The Legionnaires, too, head home.

Later, PP and her subjects emerge from an underground chamber, which, like her temporary throne room on Earth, is impervious to all transmissions.  Nothing inside can be detected.

PP chose to hide instead of fight because she sensed she was pregnant.  She and the shaman agreed, the most important thing was to ensure the safety of the child. 

And what a child he will be!    

The LSH returns home to find that M’rissey has already had much of the damage to the HQ repaired.  He also took the liberty of obligating them to an official function….

The Legionnaires receive a heroes’ welcome futuristic tickertape parade.

On New Orando, PP sits on her throne, attended by her few living subjects while billions of spiritless bodies rot all over her world.  TW, still her “pet” sits at her feet.  She is queen of a ghost planet.  For now.  She pats her tummy.  Things will be different someday….


FIN



Possible events that could be included:

It is reasonable that somebody might get killed in all this.  I recommend E-lad, whose power is really awkward.

There will be Legionnaire-civilian romance or two.  Some parents approve, some are appalled, some are divided, etc.

Cham will occasionally turn up sleeping with an Antarean Spider-roach, a Jovian Methane Slug, or somesuch.  He/she/it sees beauty in forms others don’t appreciate.  

After all this time we get to see a game of Magno-Ball at least in miniature on the Mini-Magno-Ball table—and get a sense of Cosmic Boy’s dominance of the sport, perhaps in replays.  He was Michael Jordan X 10, a regular Jonathan E.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Legion of Super Heroes Overview, Part 2

JayJay here. In 2007 Jim returned to DC Comics to write the Legion of Super Heroes again after 31 years. Unfortunately everything didn't go as planned for the series. Here is the second of three parts of the plot overview. Fans of the series may enjoy reading what his original intentions were for the series and those unfamiliar with the series may enjoy reading the plot overview for a 16 issue story arc. What follows has never been seen outside of those working on the series. 

(Continued from yesterday's blog)


Meanwhile, on Triton, the ADs charge—but they’re different!  They’ve adapted on the fly into new, dangerous forms, designed, it seems, to cope with the powers of their opponents.  At SG’s urging, Giselle feints a headlong attack, drawing fire, then executes a spectacular leaping somersault to cover.  Star Boy brings down a building on many of the ADs.  TW eviscerates one that escaped.  Giselle also takes out one of the remaining ADs.

The battle rages.  It’s even more difficult and more interesting (I hope) than before.

The ADs are trying to break into the Safety Containment—and succeeding.  Giselle refuses SG’s order to attack/distract them, screw the people in there!  SG alone stands in the breach.  Several SP officers, wounded, down, unconscious or nearly so are nearby.  With supreme effort, SG seizes control of their brains’ motor centers and causes them to fire their weapons at the ADs!  It’s a withering barrage.

The few remaining ADs finally fall back.

Giselle, running low on energy again, slows and sags.  TW swoops in to save her from an AD’s energy tentacles.  He carries her back to where SG and Star Boy are.      

Then, the U.P. forces and the SP arrive.  They wipe out the remaining ADs.

The all-clear sounds.  The city’s containment auto-sealing measures are catching up with the damage.  People emerge from the Safety Containment, re-entering the city, amazed at the devastation.  The CM emerges.  He’s fit to be tied.  It’s the Legion’s fault the city has suffered so much damage!  If they’d only gone through proper channels, alerted the SP and U.P. earlier…!  The city’s going to sue them!  Under his breath, he mutters a remark about them being freaks….

TW (plenty fascinated by this amazingly beautiful girl) asks why Giselle wasn’t inside the Safety Containment—not that the Legionnaires aren’t grateful that she wasn’t.  She says that the CM ordered the gates closed though he could see her running toward them.  He literally slammed the door in her face. 

TW is enraged.  He stalks toward the CM and jacks him up against a wall, about to kill him, or, at least, damage him severely.

SG intervenes, forcibly calming TW (!!!!).  No time for subtlety, and she’s too weary.  They just don’t need any more trouble at the moment.  

SG thanks Giselle—and hands her a glycogen drink.  Giselle was impressive.  If she’d like to try out for Legion training, says SG, she’d be welcome.

No way, says Giselle, refusing the beverage.  She wasn’t helping them, she was trying to save herself—they just happened to be on the same side for a few minutes.  The Legion, to her, is just a tool of the establishment she hates.  She limps away.

Meanwhile, Star Boy finds IK.  He increases the weight of one end of the debris pinning IK, which cantilevers the other end, freeing him.  Good, TW growls.  Where would we be without the wimp with the power to hide when there’s trouble?

The SP commander gives the Legionnaires a cursory thank-you and orders them to report to their command module—waaay over there—for debriefing.  The Legionnaires bristle, but per Saturn Girl, cooperate…for now.

Back at HQ, LLad receives SG’s call—all okay.  He says he knew he could count on her.  When they sign off however, and he thinks he’s alone, and what might have happened washes over him, he shudders and sobs, uncontrollable tears welling in his eyes.

LLass sees.  She understands.


Meanwhile, PP returns to her once-palatial apartments only to find them being stripped bare, the contents to be sold at public auction.  Without the income from her many huge trusts, her “allowance” and frequent gifts from mom and dad—all of which ceased when Orando did—she’s broke and, in fact, deeply in debt.  The building itself has also been seized and will be liquidated to settle her huge, unpaid bills.

On the way home, by commercial starliner, Timber Wolf is seething about SG’s overt assertion of control over his actions—but he’s holding his anger in check for now.  He thinks.  It occurs to him that even now, SG may be subtly calming him, keeping him under control.

Meanwhile, IK can’t get Giselle out of his mind.  Something about her—make that everything about her—fascinates him.

On the news, seen by the LSHers on the starliner, it is reported that SP and U.P. troops routed a force of mysterious ADs on Triton.  There is a brief mention of the Legionnaires.

IK’s father, Senior SP Official, Lon Norg, on duty late, receives the SP report regarding the Triton incident.  He listens to the on-site commander’s account.  A few things don’t add up.  Norg says “Tell me what really happened.”

LLass is in the rec room, fiddling with the new Mini-Magno-Ball table.  PG enters.  Can’t you sleep either? asks PG.  No, says LLass.  She’s worried about her brother.  Worried that he’s in over his head.  Worried about what that might do to the Legionnaires he commands, worried about what it’s doing to him.  And besides…she hates to sleep alone.

PG, an ancient history buff, recalls a time during the 21st Century when the Earth faced enormous problems.  What they needed was a Lincoln or a Churchill or a Winfrey or a Mwamba, but the leaders of that era just weren’t of that caliber.  It was disastrous….

LLass says maybe she should talk to him…get him to step down. 

Karate Kid enters.  Both girls are surprised.  No way he should be out of the biorepair-unit yet.  Yes, well, he’s a fast healer.

PG correctly reads the vibes from LLass and excuses herself.  She sinks right through the floor to the dorm levels below.

KK looks like hell.  That was one of the longest, toughest fights of his life.  He says his broken arm is mended, his cuts and bruises are healed, but he still feels wiped.  LLass moves closer to him and says, so if I tried to take advantage of you, you’d be helpless? 

Hello? KK raises an eyebrow.  Be gentle with me, he says.

Pull back and fade to: PP, walking the streets (or, flight-ring-drifting above the pavement), with nowhere to go.  Much of Metropolis is still in ruins.  She wanders into bad areas.  The SP can’t possibly cover all the devastated areas.  The Public Service is down in most areas.  Even in the 31st Century, people (and other sapient beings) exploit opportunities to get away with bad behavior, wrongdoing…and evil.  Even moreso in the 31st Century, where society is generally closely regulated and such opportunities are rare.

PP sees looters ransacking a damaged building that once was a major retailer’s merchandise warehouse/transmatter distribution center.  She walks in among the looters—no one seems to notice or care, there’s plenty of swag to jack.  This retailer specialized in super-high-end luxury items.  While chaotic, wholesale plundering goes on all around her, PP wistfully caresses wearables made of fine fabrics, examines items made of rare metals, precious crystals and exotic organics.  All of this would have been hers on a whim, once.  She sees a bracelet that appeals.  How simple to put it on and walk away—and why not?  It is her due.  She is a Princess.


Suddenly, there are a thousand Science Police surrounding the center.  Lights glare, sirens sound.  The looters are ordered to lie on the floor.  They do—except for PP.  She walks toward the ring of SP officers, right into their guns, though they are screaming threats.  The officers shout at the looters to keep their faces down—move your nose off the floor, so much as glance up and you’ll be wasted. 

PP walks right through the SP officers, who are illusions of her making.  She sends a signal to the real SP via her flight ring.  They’ll arrive in moments.  PP wanders on.      

PP is still wearing the bracelet…!           

LLad wakes up to the sound of the comlink auto-answer telling him that there are seven thousand six hundred ninety-seven messages, five hundred and thirty of them from high-ranking U.P. officials and one from the office of the President’s Chief of Staff saying that the seven AM meeting is cancelled.  LLad checks the time—8:15 AM.  Whew.

After morning ablutions, LLad heads down to the main chamber, the “living room,” where Legionnaires at the HQ usually gather.  He checks the Duty Roster:

Brainiac 5—Lab Complex
Chameleon—Cygni System
Colossal Boy—HQ
Dreamer—City Center – off  duty
Element Lad—HQ
Invisible Kid—HQ
Karate Kid—HQ
Light Lass—HQ
Lightning Lad—HQ, Leader In Command
Phantom Girl—HQ
Princess Projectra—HQ 
Saturn Girl—HQ
Shadow Lass—Talok VIII – ceremonial 
Shrinking Violet—Ursae Majoris System
Star Boy—HQ
Timber Wolf—HQ
Triplicate Girl—Infirmary
Ultra Boy—HQ

LLad flops in a chair.  By ones and twos the others at HQ come in.  When SG enters, LLad holds her like he’ll never let her go.  KK and LLass arrive together, but not looking like a couple—just friends.  There are a number of bureaucrats waiting outside to see LLad, there are comlink calls coming in droves, there’s a holdup in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights….

Screw ‘em.

LLad tells the auto-answer that unless it’s the President, tell everyone that the HQ is under quarantine due to possible Venusian stinkwart-plague, contracted from muskshrews.


Triplicate girl enters.  Thank the stars everyone survived the ADs.  So far.

PP is the last to enter.  TW goes to her side.

PG says she heard about PP’s brilliant capture of hundreds of looters last night.  Bravo. 

PP says she’s determined to be an exemplary Legionnaire—“because that’s all I am now.”

LLass admires PP’s bracelet.  The last remnant of her possessions, says PP.  SG looks askance, but says nothing.

There’s an awkward silence. 

Brainiac 5 enters.  It’s good that most are here.  They must address the matter of the ADs.

First, says Timber Wolf, there’s another matter.  SG’s intrusions.  He’s barely containing killer rage.  SG admits all.  She’s done it…a lot…usually very subtly.  She knows it was wrong, but…. 

An angry debate ensues, Legionnaires screaming their arguments on either side.  Brainiac 5 can’t understand what the problem is—TW’s a maniac, SG tamped him down, so?—and they need to focus, here, on the ADs.

A thunderclap born of a powerful bolt from LLad’s hands shuts everyone up.  He asks TW what he wants done.  TW scoffs.  SG is his squeeze.  LLad won’t do anything to her.  Wrong, says LLad.  Legionnaires have been expelled for less.  He’ll leave it to TW.  What he says, goes. 

TW says what he wants is the b*tch’s veins in his teeth.  But…growling, he says he’ll settle for an apology—and a guarantee that it’ll never happen again. 

SG abjectly apologizes.  She swears that she’ll never intrude unwanted into his mind.  Or, adds LLad, into any other Legionnaire’s mind.  Right, says SG.  Never again, will she invade other Legionnaires’ minds.  She asks TW to forgive her.  He snarls an affirmative. 

Then, LLad confronts TW.  He says, you understand that this means you’d better control yourself.  You screw up and being kicked out of here is the least of what will happen to you.  Understand?  TW seethes…but backs down, agrees.

PP bristles at LLad’s treatment of her consort, but says nothing.

Masterful, thinks LLass.  Maybe he can do this.

Brainiac 5 shouts: “The ADs…???”

Then, suddenly, a dozen bureaucrats waving holo-docs, a score of vendors, contractors, delivery managers, process server-robots, etc., admitted by a senior U.P. official here to take his grandson on a tour, swarm in and surround LLad.  Nobody believed that stinkwart thing for a minute.

Among the mob that enters is a legal process-server drone.  He serves PP. 

PP says she has to go, and leaves.

LLad is buried in bureaucracy again.  B-5 organizes others to help him investigate the Oort, scattered disk and Triton attacks.  Phantom Girl is dispatched to the Oort Cloud,  Karate Kid is sent to the scattered disk and Invisible Kid insists on going to Triton for some reason….

They have to take public transportation and charters.

PG finds the “crime scene” sealed off by SP.  No problem, she “phantoms” through the ground to reach the scene.  She finds nothing useful.  It was rumored that the U.P. military outpost there mounted a staunch resistance, but there’s no debris, no artifacts, nothing.  It’s as if the ADs wiped away everything down to the last quark, including their own fallen, if any.

KK finds nothing.  Though the place was littered with inert ADs he “killed,” not a trace of any remains.  He knows that the SP didn’t have time to remove them all and erase every trace.  Did they self-atomize?

IK gets a “chilly” reception.  He first tries to find Giselle.  No luck.  Gone?  It would seem.  Where?  Invisibly, he gets into city/U.P. records that are off-limits—but her whereabouts are “classified.”  Huh?

IK learns that all the AD bodies self-destructed to the lowest sub-atomic level.  

However…there is one AD body still intact—apparently the only successful “kill” of the TNO deflectors.  The AD went down into a deep drift of nitrogen ice.  Apparently, something damaged its self-destruct mechanism.  Upon locating the thing, U.P. investigators put it in stasis to preserve it.  It’s being shipped back to Earth for examination.  IK reports back and books passage home on a starliner.

Meanwhile, PP visits her family’s lawyers on Earth.  Creditors with claims against Orando are suing PP and winning summary judgments against her.  The lawyers say there’s nothing they can do. 
 

How can it be, the Princess wonders, that creditors win judgments against her as if she were Orando itself…and yet, according to the U.P., she’s nobody.  The lawyers explain that the U.P. rulings have to do with affairs of state, while the business obligations signed by her father, which inure to surviving members of the Royal Family, are a civil matter.  “It’s complicated,” they say, patronizingly.  Maybe if she renounced her throne, they could help…but even that’s a long shot.  Never, says PP, will she renounce her throne. 

PP says surely there must be vast sums owed to Orando!  Yes, say the lawyers, but the debtors are off the hook.  Clearly, the reason the U.P. moved to nullify PP’s status was so that there would be no legal claimant for Orando!  For other U.P. worlds, having quadrillions of debt erased will be an incredible economic boon—badly needed now.

Meanwhile, B-5 gets LLad’s attention long enough to get him to request that he, B-5, be allowed to attend the examination of the AD.  It would be better if he could conduct the exam himself, but that ain’t likely, so…. 

Permission is denied!  The U.P. Chief Medical Examiner’s office refuses to admit any Legion representative to the laboratory examinations of the AD, its equipment and accouterments.  Official policy—no unauthorized people admitted.

Brainiac 5 flips out.  He has to witness the examination of that AD!    

LLad is furious.  They’re U.P. servants when that’s convenient for the government and “unauthorized” when it isn’t.

Time for desperate measures….

Meanwhile, LLass helps PP move into a LSH dorm room.  All it takes is setting up access codes, etc.  PP has nothing to “move.”  PP thanks LLass.  Of course, this little apartment, nice by say, MY standards, is Spartan by her standards.  LLass can see that PP’s verklempt, though properly grateful and polite.  LLass says when she feels that way, she buys herself a new vicari-disk or something.  PP has no money.  Even her small LSH stipend has been garnisheed.  “Leave me,” says PP.  LLass decides to not be offended by being dismissed as a commoner, given the circumstances.  She curtsies (!) and splits.

After LLass is gone, PP cries, clutching the bracelet. 

LLass runs into Colossal Boy in the hall.  She’s still sympathetic.  PP is used to being a Princess, and well, she’ll cut her some slack on the imperious crap…for a while.  Colossal Boy is sympathetic, too.    

Colossal Boy suggests that maybe they can finagle her some generic creds from the futuristic equivalent of the petty cash box.  Light Lass figures out how to do that.  They take the creds to PP.  At least PP has something in her purse—but accepting “alms” from commoners utterly humiliates her.  

Meanwhile, Invisible Kid sneaks into the examining room where the AD is being dissected.  He’ll be B-5’s eyes.  Saturn girl telepathically links his senses into Brainiac 5’s mind.  B-5 is loathe to have any poking into his mind, but he needs to see the evidence….
 

The evidence is startling.  B-5 sees much that the U.P. examiners miss.  These ADs and their technology appear to be very, very ancient.  They were dispatched on their mission to attack the Oort Cloud and points beyond (or were merely sent off in a direction and happened to encounter the Oort Cloud) a looooong time ago from very, very far away.  Their conveyances are sub-lightspeed, for florg’s sake!

It appears that the Triton ADs were dispatched later than the Oort or scattered disk ones (determined from incoming vector data), but being a more sophisticated generation, they actually overtook the previously launched ones.  That’s a puzzle.  If the AD makers’ technology was advancing, then surely there would have been more sophisticated hyper-lightspeed ADs arriving decades, centuries or millennia before the sub-light ones did.  Did the makers collapse or regress, did they come to their senses…?  Or did they change tactics…?

It is still unclear whether these things are alive or merely machines built by beings with great organic-technology skills.  

There’s more to be seen…but, suddenly, Invisible Kid is detected!  Rejected LSH candidate Spy senses him, or more accurately, realizes that there’s one spot in the room where he senses nothing.  Invisible Kid tries to flee.  Sludge makes the floor gooey—and now, IK can be located by his footprints as he slogs along.  Voice tries to command IK to stop, but only succeeds in halting a few of the SP observers in their tracks.  Giselle (??!!), now called “Gazelle,” does a flying kick at where IK’s tummy ought to be.  WHAM!  He’s down, busted—though still invisible.  His unseen body is dragged away.

This is gonna be trouble….

On top of everything, the U.P. is obviously developing its own, more obedient super-force—a Legion of Substitute Heroes…sort of.  At some point, SG will ask Gazelle what she’s doing working directly with the establishment she hates.  Gazelle will say, “Because they promised to cure me.”

IK is in jail.  SG calls her mother to ask that she pull some strings.  Her mother says she’s gotten in a great deal of trouble for doing just that.  No can do.

Meanwhile, PP is arrested!  The U.P. security guards she terrified with her illusions have filed assault charges.  PP’s lawyers arrange to have her freed on her own recognizance pending the trial.

Later, in a public square, PP sits alone, pondering.  It occurs to her that she’s hungry.  She hasn’t eaten since before the meeting with LaFong.

PP eats “local, commoner food.”  It’s disgusting.  After choking down a puffpup and a kono juice from a hovervendor, PP has one of those Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll never be hungry again!” moments.

A young couple recognizes PP and asks PP for her autograph.  PP is disgusted by the “familiarity” of commoners—and generally appalled by non-royal treatment.  She refuses.  Go away.  They’re insistent—they touch her (!) and PP reacts violently, with surprising, terrible strength (??!!).  Timber Wolf, who’s nearby, intervenes—ironically, the peacemaker/voice of reason.  No one is seriously hurt. 

Saturn Girl later convinces the couple not to press charges and Light Lass finagles a way for the damages to be paid out of LSH funds.

Surprisingly, IK’s influential father arranges a temporary release for IK.  IK is remanded to his parents’ custody.  IK wonders why dad—who practically disowned him—would do such a thing.  Dad isn’t blind.  He’s saw what the LSH did during the Dominator War.  He found out that it was the Legionnaires, not the SP and U.P. forces that did the real heroics on Triton.  Maybe his kid is turning out to be the “real man” he always dreamed he would be.  IK says he spent most of the time there trapped under rubble.  No matter, says dad.  He went into harm’s way.  He fought with a team that got the job done.  He’s a hero in dad’s book.  Dad wants to hear the whole story.  Dad is particularly pleased to hear about this girl, Giselle, who caught IK’s fancy.  Good for him!  About time he got himself a girl….

For the first time in his life, IK feels accepted by his parents, especially his father.  He likes, wants this approbation…. 

More and more, PP lives in an illusion of her own making—of her palace, of Orando, of her parents….

PP also spends time with Element Lad, who also lost his entire planet.  At first, E-lad, the spiritual one, the philosopher, is friendly, sympathetic.  PP and Element Lad will commiserate, have an only-we-can-understand/Holocaust survivors’ sort of rapport.  For a while.  But, soon, PP starts to freak him out.  There’s something too intense about her, something disturbing….

IK returns to LSH HQ, free to rejoin the team pending prosecution. 

But, now, LLad faces even more trouble—more forms to fill out, petitions to be made, legal hassling, butt kissing, etc.  LLad is overwhelmed. 

In addition, U.P. auditors arrive to review LSH expenditures with LLad.  He did sign these reps and warranties, didn’t he?

PP spends a good deal of time with Phantom Girl, who has studied much 20th  and 21st Century lore, sort of as a hobby.  Among other tales, Phantom Girl tells PP the story of the first Brainiac—probably, says Phantom Girl, just a fable, one of many that surround the true history of Superman, the greatest hero of all time.  Brainiac supposedly was the king of a world where plague killed all his subjects—so he roamed the universe capturing new subjects to repopulate his planet—because what is a King without subjects?  PP is fascinated.  She wants to hear the story again and again.

Brainiac 5 is in his lab, contemplating the nature of the ADs.  They seem to be about death and destruction only.  But if that’s your aim, why not just create a quantum wave that erases everything in its path, or use long-range weapons of mass destruction?  Why do it “hand-to-hand?”  For some reason, these destroyers like to do their work up close and personal.

There is one piece of their equipment that B-5 didn’t get to see examined because IK was discovered.  It looked sort of like a weapon, but…he suspects it was some kind of analysis tool…a data ripper.  Florg!  He’d give anything to get a close look at it.

Suddenly, a voice behind him causes him to whirl.  It’s M’rissey (!!!).  Could he please have a moment to discuss some important business?  Who is this twerp and how did he get in here, B-5 wonders.  M’rissey says he can explain….

PP gets the bill from the the lawyers.  It’s huge.  She also receives notification that the same lawyers have seized PP’s last, secret bank account, which they knew about and she didn’t (!)—as settlement of their invoice. 

There’s another AD attack—this time on Rimbor!  Up to his ears in auditors, confused, overwhelmed, LLad doesn’t know what to do.  He wants to go, but the auditors say there are irregularities, and…. 

LLass and others make decisions, organize a mission.  By this time, Chameleon, Shrinking Violet and Shadow Lass are back from their respective missions. 

The transmatter gate is down.  The account-freeze has been dealt with, but nobody admitted the maintenance robot crew when scheduled, and the reactors auto-banked.  The cruisers need refueling, and they’d take too long anyway. 

B-5 jerry-rigs something transmatter-ish.  A wormhole conduit—nasty, painful, disorienting, but effective.  Several available Legionnaires are dispatched—including, a little reluctantly, Ultra Boy.  Uh-oh….

The battle with the ADs on Rimbor is even tougher.  It’s as if they’re many generations advanced from the first batch.  They’re more powerful, they adapt….

With each new, more advanced group of ADs encountered, it appears more and more that they are alive, albeit life in a form and of a nature completely, well, alien.

Another emergency call comes in, unrelated to the ADs—a war between super-gangs in the devastated areas of the Rigel System.  The SP is overwhelmed, helpless, lives are at stake.     

Other Legionnaires scramble, argue about who should go, sort something out and just go without waiting for LLad to say anything.  He’s even busier now—on the com-link with the director of the Bureau of Civil Decency discussing Light Lass’s costume.  The auditors are impatiently waiting.

The Rigel contingent consists of Light Lass, Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf, Karate Kid and Invisible Kid.  En route, KK, Shady and TW quietly grumble about IK being along.  Useless.  Baggage.  Not a warrior.  He overhears them…. 

The gang war, which involves a number of super-bad guys—maybe Blackmace, Charma and Grimbor, Quicksand, Holdur (my original name for him was Visegrip.  Murray Boltinoff changed it because he was clueless re: IP law.  I’d like to change it back.), and others, including a couple of new ones.  Possibilities: Bludgeon, Cur, Slug, Snarl, Zaphammer, Steel Squid….  I gots a million of ‘em. 

Anyway….

One gang has won by the time the Legionnaires arrive.  The leader of the winning gang, Akilles, is a monster.  He means to execute the leaders of the rival gang, and probably do unspeakable things to the women.  The Legionnaires find themselves defending the scum of the galaxy.  So be it. 

Akilles singlehandedly conquers the macho Legionnaires, KK and TW.  Easily.  The others are soon clobbered/captured, too—except for the one with “the power to hide when there’s trouble”—IK.

Akilles is about to kill KK, TW and the other male LSHers, and do unspeakable things to the women.

IK appears.  He tells Ak that he’s under arrest and commands him to surrender himself and his gang.  Ak laughs.  This little guy is telling him what to do?!  Ak attacks.  IK, using his head comes up with something McGyver-ish and clobbers Ak.  One of Ak’s lieutenants leaps at IK, who, again, using brain rather than brawn, clocks him.

Next, says IK.

IK is attacked from all quarters—but vanishes, and in the confusion, frees the other Legionnaires.  This time, not taken by surprise (and not having to face Akilles) they kick butt.  The gang is defeated.  The SP swarm in to clean up.

KK congratulates IK.  IK says go screw yourself.  All of you think that because I can’t lift a tank or shoot lightning bolts out of my fingers that I don’t matter.  I’m a “wuss.”  A “wimp.”  “Useless.”  “Baggage.”  Well, maybe now you know that you don’t have to be a macho jerk to matter.

KK abjectly apologizes, and means it.  He understands, now, that IK has as much heart and courage and as any of them and way more smarts than all of them—useable, practical smarts, in addition to technical smarts (in which category B-5 leads the league).  Shady, too, apologizes.  TW grumbles something about the wuss doing okay…this time.

Meanwhile….  

The LSH-ers defeat—barely—the ADs on Rimbor.  However, Ultra Boy is arrested by the local SP.  Seems he has vehicular homicide charges pending from an accident a while back, and they take such things very seriously here.  He could face the death penalty.  His LSH affiliation blunted off-world arrest and extradition attempts, but now that he’s conveniently plopped into the local laws’ laps….

At LSH HQ, lawyers arrive, here to discuss the IK case.  Maintenance people (and robots) demand attention, answers.  The repo people (and robots) are here to repossess the Mini-Magno-Ball table in the rec room due to delinquent payments.

On Rimbor, Ultra-Boy resists arrest, breaking free of the cops!  The other Legionnaires instinctively help their comrade.  Fight.  The LSHers break away and get to a transmatter location but they’re pinned down only meters away from a gate.  Fight their way through?  What if someone, theirs or SP, gets injured or killed?  Saturn Girl is having second thoughts about this whole thing and asserts some leadership.  They can’t do this.  At least they have to check in with LLad.  Others groan.  He is the leader, she telepathically barks.  You will listen to him.

At LSH HQ, the auditors have found huge irregularities, improprieties, and negligence tantamount to gross malfeasance.  LLad breaks away from them to take a call from the U.P. Attorney General.  The AG tells LLad that IK will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and that a Special Prosecutor has been appointed to investigate the matter—and every other matter they can think of.  Every Legionnaire involved in the spying operation at the Chief Medical Examiner’s lab, especially LLad, is in serious trouble. 

Then, the call comes in from Rimbor.  Saturn Girl asks for instructions.  (I presume Saturn Girl has to have someone else be her voice on com-links, i.e., she’d telepathically tell the designated speaker what to say.)  Anyway, the message is this: the SP are breaking down the doors!  What should they do?!  LLad puts her on hold…!

The Minister of Finance is on the other line.  The auditors’ report is inconceivably bad.  Their funding is suspended.  All assets are frozen.  They’re out of business—and required to report for incarceration immediately pending a hearing.

The lights go off.  The power has been shut down and they’re off-line in every way.  S.P. S.W.A.T. teams (or the 31st Century equivalent) are at the door.

LLad is utterly crushed, at a loss, defeated. 

Suddenly the lights go on.  The HQ is on-line again.  The auditors file out, apologizing as they go.  The S.W.A.T. team smashes in…pauses as a communiqué comes in…abjectly apologizes, and leaves.

M’rissey walks up to L-Lad.  Everything is taken care of, he says.  All the bills are paid, the treasury is bursting at the seams.  The Legion no needs any U.P. or any outside funding.  The AG’s office is scrambling to fend off a Citizens’ Unjust Persecution suit and Demand for Impeachment of the AG (under the little-known Citizens Rights and Remedies Act of ’37, as amended in ’43).  They’ll back off in a hurry.  U-Boy is innocent—his speeder wasn’t the one that caused the fatality, though he was in the area and going a little—okay, a lot fast when it happened.  M’rissey has arranged a plea bargain for the speeding charge that provides for community service.   Oh, and the LSH’s right of self-determination of membership, based upon the charter established when they first incorporated as a club, has been upheld in the Supreme Court, so no worries there.

There’s another call from Saturn Girl.  The SP have stopped smashing down the door.  She thinks they’re up to something.  Come on home, says LLad.

LLad dismisses Dream Boy.  He’s no longer, and in LLad’s opinion, never was a Legionnaire.  He can go home.

Dream Boy’s parting shot to LLad is that his best friend will betray him.

Suddenly, there is a call from the President.  A PLANET THE SIZE OF URANUS HAS APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE AT THE FRINGES OF SOLAR SPACE!  ITS GRAVITY IS BEGINNING TO AFFECT…EVERYTHING!  He needs the LSH’s help right now, big time.

I’ll handle this, says M’rissey.  He demands from the President permanent waivers of several provisions of the LSH’s various agreements with the U.P., and several other considerations.  Yes, yes, anything, says the Pres.  Okay, says M, a full pardon for IK and the Legion regarding the U.P. Chief Medical Examiner’s office incident.  And for PP, for her various assault charges…and anything else he thinks of later.  Okay?  Okay.  All righty then, M’rissey says to LLad, you take it from here. 

LLad is suddenly assertive, suddenly Captain Kirk-like!  He’s like the star quarterback suddenly freed from also being the equipment manager, booster fund administrator and marching band director.  He issues orders:  Star Boy and Light Lass can affect gravity—not enough to take care of planetary-level problems, but with Brainy’s help…?  B-5 says he can magnify their powers through the U.P. G-field monitors at the Science Nexus and direct their input to stabilize the system…if they can get clearance.  “Duh,” says M’rissey.

Before they leave, LLass asks M’rissey who the florg he is and what the…?  He says he’s their major-domo of sorts.  He applied for the job of managing the annoying stuff and LLad’s exact words were, “I don’t have time for this crap,” which he took as a yes.  It wasn’t hard to figure out all LLad’s security codes and access protocols…they were kind of, well, obvious.  He just straightened everything out.  It was easy.  Now, while they go do their thing, he’s going to take a break, relax and play some holo-games or experience some vicari-comics.

How did he make all the trillions now in the treasury?  Simple, he says.  He sold the rights to market Legion Flight Rings.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(It’ll turn out that he had B-5 come up with a stripped version—flight only, and at limited speed—for market.  Why didn’t B-5 think of marketing some invention, of which he has many, to fund the LSH?  He just doesn’t think like that.)    

(Though very young, M’rissey becomes the resident “adult,” (easily) taking care of bureaucratic crap that would numb anyone else’s mind.  The others take to calling him “Exec Lad,” “the Suit,” Suit-boy,” “Upstairs,” “the Cheese,” “Admini-kid” or somesuch, TBD.  Maybe all of the above.)

A hero-wannabe, Sizzle (who was invited to come to Earth to try out for the new U.P. “Super Squad,” which seems from the advertisements to be a new, better LSH) gets pressed into service (at B-5’s behest) to help in the gravity stabilizing endeavor, working as a super transistor to amplify power.  She’s from planet Qzzno, which orbits very close to its sun.  All inhabitants there are to some extent, radiation-proof, but she is exceptionally so.  All inhabitants there have a limited ability to absorb any form of energy and expend it as any other form of energy—i.e., radiation into magnetism, light into heat, sound into electricity, etc.  Her abilities along these lines are exceptional, perhaps limitless.  She is key to the effort. 

Together, LLass, Star Boy and Sizzle begin to offset the gravity well of the Intruder.  More, they’re pushing it away!  Their vastly amplified power is moving a planet!  Wow!

Sizzle is totally impressed with the Legionnaires—as they are with her.

Suddenly, the Intruder seems to vanish!  No, say the U.P. techs.  It just moved—very fast—to a point far enough away so that its gravitational effect is negligible, and oh, by the way, out of range of their G-field devices.

U.P. forces move into defensive positions in case the denizens of this Intruder Planet are hostile. 

Unintelligible communiqués come from the Intruder, but in a language that is seemingly unrelated to any known language.  Carl LaFong responds for the U.P., but it seems clear that his messages are not being understood.  Finally, it is the Aliens who break the barrier, managing a crude attempt at Interlac: nomad…pilgrim…migrate…world… planet…peace…peace…peace….”  

The President and his advisors confer.  LLad is asked to participate by vid-link!  LLad gives a Kirk-like assessment, says the Legion should investigate.  “Their planet came into our space.  It is our right to find out who they are and what they’re up to.”  He wants to boldly go there and get the skinny.  Ultimately, though, it is decided that the U.P. will closely watch the Intruder, but take no action yet.

Privately, the President tells LLad she agrees with him.  She hopes that if and when the time comes, the LSH will help.  LLad says, “Count on us.”   

LLass hugs her brother.  She’s so proud of him.  Never doubted him for a minute.  They both laugh.

There is a brief, if uneasy peace.  The Intruder Planet is watched warily.  A sporadic dialogue, difficult because of the language problem, continues.   

It is a coincidence that AD attacks have ceased since the Intruder arrived?

At B-5’s urging, LLad asks if B-5 can examine the body of the AD previously examined by the Chief Medical Examiner.

No problem. 

Though all charges have been pardoned away by the President, concerned due to PP’s “incidents” with the security guards and the young couple, the IK affair and Ultra Boy’s resisting arrest, a number of U.P. council members are calling for psychoprobe mental examination of all Legionnaires.  The U.P. Department of Internal Security orders it done.   

Lightning Lad asks M’rissey if they can get out of it.  M’rissey thinks it’s a good idea.  He’s seen and noted PP’s strange behavior.  As the token, pseudo-adult in the building, he’s worried.

At a nadir, certain that she’s about to lose her Legion “family” just as she lost her real family, PP “flees the interview.”  When the psychoprobe team comes to LSH HQ, she bolts. 

In the tawdry, sub-industrial section of Metropolis, PP is found by a dozen or so Orandoans.  (Orandoites?  Orandonians?  Whatever.)  Few citizens of Orando ever ventured offworld, and only if doing so was imperative or unavoidable.  Those few have tracked down their former Princess—now, their Queen….

One of the Orandoans is a shaman.  She counsels PP.  As PP inherited the illusion powers of her parents she has also inherited her parents’ connection with the spirit world.  All the strength and psychic power of the dead of Orando is hers to tap/channel.  She has already done so once, instinctively, during the incident with the autograph seekers.

Treated as a Queen, showered with royal respect, given promises of unconditional loyalty and support, PP regains her composure.  She returns to LSH HQ as the psychoprobe team is packing up to leave.  She insists on being probed, and passes with flying colors.  Apparently, she is the most well-balanced, well-adjusted sane, serene and reasonable person in the U.P.

Lightning Lad says, well, groovy, then.  All is well.  But, several of the other Legionnaires, including Saturn Girl, are suspicious.  Somehow, PP beat the test, but there’s definitely something not quite right about her.

Light Lass asks Timber Wolf, with whom she was once intimate, what’s the deal with Projectra?  He is closer to her than anyone.  TW says he doesn’t know, but…sometimes, now, it seems as if she is…many, not one.  

Later, when the Legionnaires have returned from their various missions, LLad convenes a Legion Council.  Their ranks have thinned in recent times.  They need people and they need power. 

Five candidates try out.  (All passed rigorous pre-screening according to the old standards, which M’rissey has re-instituted and administrated.)  As each candidate enters, their screening test results appear on a holo-screen.  There are the kind of stats you’d expect, but also things like “Courage Quotient,” and “Willpower Index.”  The candidates are:

Night Girl – who has amazing strength, but only in deep shadow or darkness

Turtle – who’s very hard to hurt, nearly invulnerable

Sizzle – who, remember, can transform any form of energy to any other form—and use it as she wishes

Mindbender – who can alter the shape of any material by force of will

And, surprisingly, Gazelle!

Night Girl is rejected.  Shadow Lass argues on Night Girl’s behalf.  The limitation on her power is too great for her to become a Legionnaire but paired with Shady, she’d be a force to reckon with.  True, all agree, but for now, Night Girl is rejected, pending further review.

Turtle is also impressive but too limited.  Rejected, pending further review. 

(Eventually, I’d like to establish a group of Legion Reserves consisting of Night Girl, Turtle and others whose powers are not quite Legion-worthy, but might be invaluable for a particular mission or under just the right circumstances.  They’d be kind of a Mission Impossible force (ala the old TV show)—a pool of talent the Legion can draw upon from time to time when the specific need arises.  A different take on the Legion of Substitute Heroes.)

Sizzle and Mindbender are accepted.

When Gazelle enters the council chamber, IK’s seat suddenly seems empty.  Everyone’s paying attention to the candidates and no one notices except Saturn Girl, who’s sitting next to him—and she can tell he’s still there.  She asks, telepathically what’s up.  He thinks back at her a plea not to draw attention to his fade-out.  SG picks up that he’s terrified of meeting Gazelle!  He’s “not ready for her to see him yet.”  Wow, thinks SG, a new world record in shyness.

(The truth is that IK is afraid that the moment she sees mousey little him, that will end his “having a girl,” and disappoint dad.)

Gazelle explains that the U.P. officials lied to her.  They have no way to “cure” her, and she thinks never had any intention of doing so.  And, they made her feel like more of a freak then she ever did on Triton.  When the LSH broke free and thumbed its nose at the U.P. (thanks to M’rissey), she changed her opinion of them.  So did several other of the U.P. “Super Squad.”  They’d rather be replacements-in-waiting/backups to the real Legion than fake government Legionnaires.

Gazelle demonstrates.  She’s in.  She’ll need training, but under current circumstances, she’ll have to get it on the fly, as will Mindbender and Sizzle.

(I will develop these characters and make them interesting, appealing and significant.  They will have significant roles in the story.  For now, trust me?)
 

Late at night, PP accosts Phantom Girl in a hallway.  PP demands to hear the story of Brainiac again.  (P.S. PP insists on PG altering the ending of the tale, where Brainiac is thwarted by Superman.  She demands that B succeeds—a “happy ending.”  !!!!!!!!!!!)

Phantom Girl, tired of telling the tale and tired in general refuses.    

PP physically attacks Phantom Girl!  How dare she refuse a Queen?!  Shocked, taken by surprise, PG barely avoids PP’s first swing—which cracks a divot out of the ceramocrete wall behind her.  PG becomes immaterial, but PP reaches into the depths of PG’s lizard brain, turns off PG’s “flight” impulse and fires up her “fight” impulse!  Suddenly thrust into an adrenaline-driven rage, PG rematerializes swinging, scratching, clawing and biting.  No problem for PP.  With incredible, hideous strength, PP brutally beats PG near to death.

From the Shadows, Timber Wolf watches but does nothing.  He (anonymously) sounds an alarm to bring help for PG and follows PP.

Summoned by the alarm, Light Lass and several others find PG.  They rush her to the Legion infirmary and summon medical help.  It’s that serious. 

The next morning, Phantom Girl is still in a coma.  The doctor says it was touch and go for a while, but he believes she’ll recover fully.  They’ll start regrowing her teeth tomorrow.

PP comes to PG’s bedside.  She’s sympathetic, it seems.  Very attentive, in fact.  She takes PG’s hand and stares at her as if peering right through her…or…into her. 

Who could have done this?  No evidence of a break-in.  Could it have been another Legionnaire?  Seems impossible…except…Timber Wolf hasn’t been seen or heard from since last evening at about the time PG’s beating occurred.  And, it would take tremendous strength and tremendous savagery to inflict the kind of damage PG suffered.  TW must have taken off/deactivated his flight ring.  His location does not appear on the Duty Roster.

After everyone else has gone, Saturn Girl, still chastened and guilty over her invasions of Timber Wolf’s mind struggles with her conscience.  She feels terrible for breaching a sacred trust, but worse, she feels guilty that she didn’t go far enough.  Maybe she could have prevented this.

Though it is another breach of trust, she invades PG’s comatose mind searching for clues.  PG’s mental landscape is chaotic—but one swirling image dominates: the countenance of Princess Projectra—not TW—twisted into a mask of hate.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


(Continued)