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.
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.
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….
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!
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 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.
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….
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.
Very interesting story. I was never a LSH reader, but if this story had happened, I would read it (most likely afterward in a TPB). Good stuff.
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.
DC lost a customer over that debacle. Me. I was never wild about the art. Manapul could occasionally draw some stunning women, but for the most part the characters looked too much alike. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was saying what. I'm not extremely familiar with the DC characters. I hadn't bought a Legion book to read since the early 70's. I was a die-hard and true Marvel fan through the 70's and early 80's. I was irritated after setting down every copy of your Legion run. It had nothing to do with your story. As is typical for your stories, the elements were starting to gel midway and I was looking forward to the intended conclusion. Being a person of principle, I won't buy another DC comic until the man in charge is gone.
I own a page of original art from one of the issues with a guest artist. I kinda feel like I wasted money since I don't like the artists' style or technical skills. I purchased it more as a novelty item since it was tied to your script. He took pride in saying that he ignored your request to not have overlapping panels. He was smiling when he said it and he also complained about how thick the script was. I think this is the root cause of the problem. Your fans want your scripts rendered true and well. The artists want to draw the same old schlock they turn in on other assignments. I suspect many artists are complaining… well… whining to the editor without you knowing. At the end of the day, it's just another job for them. Many have never experience an overwhelming critical acclaim, so they don't know the rewards of participating in a great project vs. an average or below average one.
My understanding is that the page of art I own had to be tweaked to make it obvious that the power ring was lifting a rock and not the character. I guess details like that don't matter to an artist. His job is to just draw, not worry if the product has any integrity. As a fan, the attention to detail is EVERYTHING. I own somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 comics. I'm not looking for average ones. I've read too many of those. I'm looking for exceptional ones. Any publisher hiring you needs to accept that. Any artist working with you needs to accept that. I'd honestly rather see you running the show than being in the trenches.
I was also told there was a language barrier between you and Francis and that you spent a lot of time communicating through his agent. I process a lot of info in a day, so I try not to rely on hearsay. I recall two panels in the middle of your story that just floored me. The difference between a desolate palace and a lush and extravagant one is a few throw pillows and a few lit torches. Wow. Nah! The art didn't cut it for me.
There were no content objections.
My dealings with DC were nightmarish. They probably felt the same way about dealing with me.
The books suffered problem after problem, mistake after egregious mistake.
Example. I was asked to write a TEXT FEATURE about the Legion Flight Ring. I delivered it as requested. No word as to when it was going to run.
Months passed. Finally, one day, completed, colored artwork for issue #41 was sent to me for comments.
There among the pages, unheralded, was the "text feature" DRAWN AS COMIC BOOK PAGES! Not text with some small spot illos, as called for, but FULL-SIZED PANELS. Someone had failed to grok that it was a text feature — as had been requested — and had given it to an artist who drew it as regular comics pages.
Problem: the copy that should have been typeset for a text feature was LETTERED at regular size. You just can't fit nearly 1500 words of lettered copy into three pages of comic book panels. I called and pointed that out to the editor. He said, yes, he'd realized that, but no worries, his assistant was CHOPPING THE COPY.
I said, no, don't let her do that. I'll do it. The editor said fine, but the book absolutely, positively had to go to the printer the next day. I told him I'd stay up all night if necessary and make the copy fit the art. He gave me the go ahead.
By the way, every issue went down to the wire, though I was months ahead of schedule with the scripts. In fact, the text feature had been delivered TEN MONTHS before it was finally used in #41.
So, I stayed up all night and fixed the thing as best I could. I delivered it in the very early AM. That day, a Friday, was spent the same way as every other day a book left the house — reviewing things via e-mail, suggesting last minute corrections of the coloring and lettering. Often, with each and every issue, not just #41, I was told that though a mistake was crippling there was no time to fix it.
In the middle of the afternoon, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen the revised text feature pages. I called the editor. He wasn't there. He had left early to get a headstart on his weekend.
So, I called his assistant. She said, no worries, she had rewritten the text feature. And that the book had left the house. Apparently no one had bothered to tell her that, with the editor's approval, I had stayed up all night to rewrite it.
I asked if it had my credit on it. Yep.
That infuriates me more than anything. Even if her rewrite had been brilliant, I would still be angry that my name was on something I didn't write. The fact that my byline was on a train wreck is almost academic.
That incident was one of many, some even worse.
I really wanted to see it through, but in the end, I'd had enough and they couldn't wait to get rid of me.
The last straw was that issue #50, in which they wanted me to wrap the story that should have gone another five issues, was originally planned and approved as a double-sized issue. When I was inches from finishing the script, the editor e-mailed me and told me: "Apologies, but the approval never came in, so we’re set at 22 pages." He said I should cut the script down to fit.
There is no way to cut eight pages out of a tight 30-page script. It's a rewrite. I declined. They got someone else.
P.S. After my contentions with DC started getting nasty, they decided to cancel the book with #50. Why, since it was selling much better than a lot of titles they weren't cancelling? Answer: It was a graceful way to get rid of me.
P.P.S. After it was all over, Mark Waid sent me a commiserating e-mail. He understood exactly what had happened without being told.
Kieron Dwyer got sued by Starbucks for putting a parody of their logo on his L.C.D. #0 comic. Parody was always deemed acceptable following a 1950's lawsuit against EC comics. Evidently, a company can still sue for dissolution of trademark.
This was so much better than we actually had in print that it really boggles me to understand WHY DC had to cut your run short if it wouldn't affect any bit of what came afterwards. Not even Princess Projecta was used in full.
One thing that really came to my mind is that, just as it had happened to the mature and challenging Giffen & Bierbaums's run, DC doesn't really allow Legion going again into a more sophisticated path, resorting to keeping it stupid and simple (and innocuous).
Holy moley! What a great 3-day read. SO many more plot points than I realized when I was reading the run. SO much better than that gawd-awful final issue.
Speaking of which, if it's not too personal what were the reasons behind your departure with issue #49? Did it have to do with editorial objections to parts of this amazing story arc?
I can see some people probably not wanting a long-time character like PP to turn evil (esp to the point of committing murder). I can also probably imagine some squeamishness about IK receiving a 31st century sex change.
[Which I applaud you for, btw. Though not gay myself, I always found it hard to believe that in the future of LSH everyone in the entire universe would be hetero. Like back in the Silver Age when DC hesitated showing any African Americans in that same future.]
If you don't wish to discuss what killed your return to LSH, that's fine. But thank you so much for sharing this outline which gives a glimpse of the Future that might have been.
Thanks. I'm cracking up imagining a lawyer in court arguing that children who read about Visegrip in a comic book will grow up to be biased against Vise-Grip pliers. "Nobody wants to use products associated with bad guys."
Seriously, this reminds me of the ludicrous Lexis lawsuit against Toyota:
When Toyota launched the Lexus line of luxury vehicles in 1987, Mead Data Central sued for trademark infringement on the grounds that consumers of upscale products (such as lawyers) would confuse "Lexus" with "Lexis".
Database … car … so hard to tell apart!
Murray thought DC would be sued by the Visegrip pliers people. Nah. Different class of trademark, no infringement, but, whatever.
If you heard a faint explosion from New Jersey, it came from my head. I need to reread this. It's too much for my mind to comprehend. SO much better than the published #50 (which you had nothing to do with, I know).
The Infinity Net concept alone was hard for me to get a grip on. Reminds me of Tipler. The Legion should have a lot more hard SF concepts like this. Put the space back in space opera!
What do you do for an encore after defeating the ultimate threat of universal annihilation?
First, the rebirth of Invisible Kid as Stealth. Reminds me a bit of Shvaughn Erin's revelation almost 20 years ago.
Second, the return of Orando. Yesterday I compared Projectra to Dark Phoenix. You turned that concept on its head. Phoenix must DIE, but Projectra must LIVE! Brilliant! I did not see the betrayal coming from Cosmic Lad.
Third, Brainiac 5, the superchip, and Super Lad. B5 has become like his fake ancestor, a keeper of worlds. The chip is a super-Kandor. Superman went INTO Kandor to become a hero (Nightwing), but Super Lad goes OUT of his Kandor. He's the anti-Projectra. (So is Element Lad, another orphan.) As you put it, "Her planet has been destroyed. Big deal. So was his [Super Lad's]." I thought Super Lad might be a modernized male Laurel Kent. No, he's different, and dare I say better? And what did he do with Projectra on the moon during that lost hour? Hmmm … should Timber Wolf be jealous?
BTW, why does Super Lad have a space in his name? Some IP issue? I would have expected Superlad by analogy with other single-word Supernames. And speaking of IP, why did Murray Boltinoff change Visegrip to Holdur?
My understanding is that you want your characters to have real motivations and sex or sexuality is a real motivation you've opted to include. From what I can tell, your latest work has been a tad bit heavier using sex or sexuality as a component when compared to your previous works. It also seems to have extended towards a seedier portrayal of sex. This has prompted some some criticism from a couple of people online. I am not offended, but I felt it's been a little heavy at a time when comics need to appeal to the largest demographic audience possible. With some major titles from Marvel even struggling to sell 50,000 copies, wouldn't it be better to write a story that can appeal to the largest demographic audience? I'd like to see mature comics that didn't require parents to censor their kids from reading them. I'm not an advocate of turning comics into a mindless "Barney the dinosaur" feel-good experience to rot children's brain cells, but I think it is possible to to write great stories that don't have half naked women draped over the heroes shoulder.
I was curious about your thoughts regarding mature themed comics vs. appealing to a wider and inevitably more conservative audience.