by Vendikarr DeWuff
As Shiera Hall headed off into the jungle, her husband called to her, “Shiera, I’ll come with you.” Carter Hall then got off the ground and quickly walked after her, trying to keep up with her pace.
“What’s wrong with Shiera?” asked Alexander Lane.
“We don’t know; she’s been acting strange since we got here,” said Jared Stevens. “Is that still the Blade of Tanit, or did she pick up another weapon in the tomb?”
“That’s the one. She was fighting with it before you made it back into the tomb with Carter.”
“What exactly is the problem with the blade? Can you look it up? Maybe it’s causing her problems.”
Alexander nodded his head to his friend and began typing keys on his wrist access to the Monitor computers. He stopped and frowned, then began typing again. “I can’t access the system. My codes are gone,” said Monitor.
“Who else has access to your system?”
“No one… or at least no one on this Earth,” replied Alexander.
“The Monitor made sure his system was unbreakable. He was the only one with codes. Once I took on the task of Monitor, I set up my own codes. Those codes are gone.”
“Alex, the Monitor is dead,” stated Jared.
“I know that… but wait, let me try his old access codes.” The young man began keying in a new set of commands and got access to the system. His jaw dropped, and then he said to his companion:
“Oh, my God. Jared, I know the problem.” He paused, then continued. “We’re not on Earth-Two anymore. As a matter of fact, we’re not even in the Earth-Two universe. We’re on Earth-One!”
Jennifer Morgan flew through the sky, following the flow of the evil magic. If not for her mission, this would be a nice day. The young woman always enjoyed the sensation of flight, but the casting of a levitation spell always took so much out of her.
She seemed to be following the road south, toward the deepest jungle. Travis Morgan had entered this land near here; the wreckage of his plane was close.
Suddenly, Jennifer was filled with a sense of urgency. The hunger of the magic suddenly increased a hundredfold, and she feared what was about to happen. She also hoped the magic of good traveling with this evil could contain it.
“Shiera, wait!” called out the winged man. Traveling through a jungle on foot was difficult for a man sporting wings. Hawkman’s wings were forever being caught on the underbrush. “It’s difficult to keep up.”
Carter Hall was very concerned about his wife. She was acting strange, almost as if she were possessed. And he feared it was the spear she was holding. He was no stranger to cursed artifacts. It was one magically imbued artifact that had awakened his memories of a past life.
She was almost a dozen paces ahead of him, and he saw a clearing ahead of her. He pushed through the jungle, knowing that if he could get away from the trees, he could catch her. Shiera entered the clearing and stopped two steps into it.
“Shiera, what…?” said Carter, not being able to complete his sentence.
“Well, now, looks like the prey has come to us,” said a human who stood before them. There must have been twenty men in the clearing, Carter noted. He saw some bound lizard men in a corral of some kind, and Carter knew they had happened upon a group of bandits or slavers.
“Oh, and a winged man, too? Should fetch us a pretty price.” He looked at Shiera and said, “Now, here, pretty, let me have that sticker so no one gets hurt.”
She replied to him, and the voice startled Carter. It was Shiera’s at first, but then it wasn’t. A deep, reverberating sound, almost like an echo of Shiera’s voice, was heard as she spoke.
“Oh, I’ll give you the spear, all right, point-sided first.”
“Last thing I heard about Earth-One, they didn’t have dinosaurs there. Guess again, Alex.”
“Jared, the computer shows the access codes for Earth-One in the system address. Monitor made them all unique. This is the Earth-One universe. Let me see if I can pinpoint where I am.” He paused to look around, then called to the nearby lizard man, “Grell, come here.”
The lizard tramped across the camp and sat beside the two adventurers. “What you need?”
“Grell, what is the name of the city we are headed for?” asked Alexander. “It might help me to learn where we are.”
“Easy question. City is Shamballah. Greatest, free-est city in world. Home of the Warlord.”
“Warlord?” asked Alexander. “Sounds familiar. Hmm… OK, let me key those parameters into the system search.” Alexander typed some commands onto his wrist access, then turned to Jared. “We’re in Skartaris, a sub-dimension attached to Earth-One. The computer doesn’t show any extra-multiveral links. The energy in Neonic’s blast must have combined with my powers and weakened the barrier between worlds. We couldn’t get to Earth-One, but we made it to a sub-dimension.”
Jared looked at his friend, bewildered, then spoke, “That all sounds great, I guess, but how does that help Shiera?”
“Oh, sorry. I got so caught up in this I forgot about her. Have the information in just a second.”
Information flashed across the wrist display quickly, and Alexander quickly assimilated the data. He turned to Jared and said, “Looks pretty bad. On most Earths, when the Blade of Tanit was unearthed, it was awakened by a blood sacrifice. After the hunger of the blade’s curse was awakened, the goddess Tanit was able to take physical control of the one conducting the sacrifice.”
“Alex, Tanit wasn’t an evil goddess. Yeah, I know she demanded blood sacrifice from her worshippers, but she was an earth mother. She granted favors to those who worshipped her. I can’t believe she would be evil now.”
“The records show the goddess went mad from a millennia of loneliness. The favor she will grant the one who worships her through human sacrifice is blessing them with her spirit — forever.”
“Damn, Alex, Shiera’s under her control, or almost. Carter could be in real danger. Let’s go.”
Alexander and Grell rose to their feet and ran in the direction taken by Carter and Shiera. Jared took to the sky, hoping he was not too late.
Scarab arced over the jungle, trying to get an idea of where Shiera and Carter were. As he flew into the air, he spotted a clearing where a fight was beginning. He started to head down toward the clearing when he spotted a woman flying toward him. She was a statuesque, platinum-haired woman, not scantily clad, but her clothing strategically revealed enough skin to be teasing. Jared thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He came to a complete stop in midair as she approached.
“You’re the source of good magic,” Jennifer Morgan said as she approached him.
“Good magic?” Jared asked, somewhat confused.
“No time,” Jennifer said. “I can sense the evil is almost free. You have to stop it. I’ll help.”
“Great — let’s do it,” Jared said, as the two headed straight into the encampment below.
Jared spotted Shiera waving the spear at what appeared to be humans. He then saw the pens where beings of various species were imprisoned. If it wasn’t for an ancient god attempting to possess Shiera, Jared thought he would just let them get slashed. Jared decided to take care of them next, but first things first. Shiera needed him.
He swooped down quickly and grabbed hold of the spear as Shiera thrust it forward. His speed and momentum succeeded in ripping the spear out of her hands. Shiera screamed and collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain. Jared hoped she would be all right, when suddenly the spear overwhelmed him. He lost consciousness and crashed into the ground, not losing his grip on the spear.
Jennifer Morgan landed beside Shiera, not knowing who she was, but the sorceress sensed that Shiera was free of the evil. A winged man moved toward the sorceress, and she backed away. Jennifer then turned to face the approaching slavers. She despised their kind and decided to put an end to their hunts.
Just as she began to cast a flame barrier around the slavers, two others came crashing through the jungle behind the winged man. It was a fiery-haired man in what appeared to be golden armor and a lizard man. They stopped and surveyed the scene. The golden man looked toward the winged man and the woman, then at the other who held the spear. Jennifer saw flashes of obvious concern cross his face. She could tell that the fallen man in black was important to the golden man.
Her eyes met the golden man, and she could tell he was unsure of the role she had played in all that occurred here. The lizard man, however, grabbed his friend’s arm.
“Slavers. We must help friends,” said the lizard. Jennifer assumed he meant the other lizard men in the pens. But to her surprise, they ran to the winged man and his woman.
“Stop those slavers. We’ll be fine,” said the winged man, and the others turned to face the dozen or so men approaching. That kind of selflessness was almost unheard of here. Her father had inspired it in so many others after he arrived here. It was refreshing to see this concern about others.
“I will help you,” she called out to them, and she turned and cast her flame shield, hoping to trap the men. Several were trapped, but many others made it ahead of her spell and continued their approach, clubs in hand, swords and daggers drawn.
Alexander Lane saw the woman cast a spell, and flames appeared, trapping some of the men. Others were still coming. He tapped Grell on the shoulder and pointed toward the pens. Grell nodded and ran toward the slave pens. He would do what he could to free the others.
Monitor stood waiting for the others to reach him. He felt he had no choice but to use his power, but he feared it wouldn’t work like earlier. Then he thought that maybe they didn’t work because he was trying to teleport out of this dimension. Maybe he could send these men somewhere else.
“Where do you want these men?” asked Alexander of the mage at his side.
“I would love to see them in the dungeons of Shamballah,” she said, looking unsure why he asked.
Alexander nodded and let those words flow through his mind. He extended his hands and, just as the slavers reached him, a black hole formed before him. The men could not stop their advance and went charging through the hole. Alexander then closed the portal and turned toward those in the flame trap.
“If you don’t want to join your friends in the hell I’ve consigned them to, I’d suggest you get out of here!” he screamed. He then looked at the woman and winked, hoping she understood his bluff. When the flame shield dissipated, and she didn’t challenge him, he knew she did.
Grell approached Alexander with the slaves following behind. Alexander nodded at Grell, then spoke to the gathering. “You’re all free. Go home. But remember the act of kindness that freed you, and repay it to others on your journey.”
There were murmurs of approval, and the crowd dispersed. Grell wandered over to Jared and lifted him off the ground, the spear still firmly held in his grasp.
“We need someone to look at Shiera,” said Carter. Alexander nodded, then approached Jennifer.
“Thank you for your help. I’m Alexander Lane, otherwise known as Monitor. Can you help us get out of here?” asked Alexander.
“I knew you were from Earth,” said Jennifer. “I remember where I’ve seen you now. Your real name is Alexander Luthor, Junior, right? I saw you on the Monitor’s satellite during the Crisis.”
“That’s right,” said Alexander, now recalling her face in the crowd of many heroes and villains he’d once addressed during the Crisis. (*) “I took the name of Lane after my mother when I took up residence on Earth-Two. I call myself Monitor.”
“I’m Jennifer Morgan. I am originally from Earth myself, though not the same Earth. Let’s get you to Shamballah. The royal physician can have a look at your wounded.”
“Just tell me where,” said Alexander.
“Shamballah Palace; my chambers should do.”
Alexander formed a portal. Carter picked Shiera from the ground tenderly. Holding her tightly in his arms, he stepped through the portal with her. Grell carried Jared through the portal, Jared’s arm dangling with the spear held tight.
Jennifer looked at Alexander cautiously, then asked, “Is this safe?”
“Absolutely,” he said as he nodded his head at her, indicating she should enter the portal. The platinum-haired woman did, followed by Alexander. As he did, the portal shimmered out of sight.