At the JSA Brownstone that night, Doctor Fate appeared at Superman’s side. “We didn’t expect to see you here,” the Man of Steel said. “How’s your headache?”
“Gone,” Doctor Fate replied. “For some reason, I felt that this was where I was supposed to be.”
“Wes came in a few moments ago. Johnny’s here as well, although he still can’t talk.”
Fate looked around. “If the Spectre was here…”
“My children are gone!” Everyone turned to see Ma Hunkel burst into the room.
A veil seemed to be lifted, and the individual JSAers began realizing how inactive they had been during the present crisis.
“Ralph’s missing,” Hourman suddenly blurted out.
“Why did we quit looking for the kids?” Red Robin asked the Huntress.
As the assembled heroes began to resume what they were doing before they were drawn back to the JSA Brownstone, the Sandman began to pound the gavel to get their attention. Once they were listening, Wes Dodds revealed all he knew about what had happened over the past few days.
Rex Tyler felt his knees go weak at the same time that his heart began to swell with pride when his friend told him of Ralph’s heroism. “Not only did Ralph save the children’s lives,” said Wes, “but he saved Morpheus’ and mine as well.”
Rex wasn’t the only one proud of Ralph. Even the usually tough Wildcat was trying his best to swallow a lump that had formed in his throat.
“So where are Ralph and the Junior JSA now?” Wonder Woman asked.
“I can answer that question.”
The Spectre stood larger than life at the far corner of the meeting room. Holding the edges of his cloak, he stretched out his arms. From the shadowy folds of cloth, the Junior JSA began to emerge.
The first of the colorful procession was Whiz Kid, his movements slow and painful. Behind him came Coral and Arrowette, the latter holding a blood-soaked rag pressed against her arm. Kiku and Static were next — both still overwhelmed by the strange journey through the Spectre’s cloak. Then came Damage; though fully sober (thanks to a little help and a stern warning from the Spectre), he still could not bring himself to look into the eyes of his heroes. The Sleeper and Batwing appeared next, supporting a limping Star Sapphire between them.
A wave of grief swept over Rex as he saw Superboy and Cei-U emerge, carrying Ralph’s limp body. Grabbing his son, he carried him the last few feet to the large, round meeting table that dominated most of the room. Doctor Mid-Nite rushed to the table and began to examine him. There were a few minutes of anxious silence as everyone waited.
After a moment, Doctor Mid-Nite smiled and turned to his friend. “Don’t worry, Rex — he’s just sleeping.”
A collective sigh was released by all.
Static led the Thunderbolt to the silent Johnny Thunder. “All right, Cei-U. I release you from our bond so you may rejoin your rightful master.”
The pink lightning bolt stretched out his hand. “Thank you,” he said as Static shook his hand.
The Spectre began to reduce his size until he was once again equal to his teammates. “You have a very brave son,” he told Rex. “Long have we cared for this boy — nay, this man — who has been special to us all.” All were stunned to hear such an emotional phrase coming from the lips of the Spectre.
The spectral avenger continued, saying, “Over the past few days, he has risked his life not once, not twice, not even thrice, but four times to protect those he cared about.” He paused to look at the sleeping figure. “He knew each time that his heroism could cost him his life, but to him it mattered not. He overcame fear and adversity, and, in the end, it was he who stood triumphant.”
None moved nor said a word as the Spectre went over to the sleeping Ralph and gently lay his hand on his chest. “Sleep well, Ralphie. You have earned a hero’s rest.”
On Tuesday morning, the world knew rejoicing as lost children were found sleeping peacefully in their beds. Nobody on Earth, not even the famed Justice Society, ever knew how these children were returned — nobody but one man.
“So,” said Hourmoose, “I guess it’s time for you to go.” Ralph nodded. “Thank you for helping us return the children to their homes.” Ralph smiled at his friend.
Hourmoose cocked his head to one side. “You’re not finished playing the hero just yet, are you?”
Ralph shook his head. “I’ve got one more person to help.”
“Good luck,” Hourmoose said as the young man opened the door and stepped into the hall.
It didn’t take Ralph long to find the door he was looking for. As he opened it, he found himself looking at the little demon, his feet still inches above the ground, and Ralph smiled.
“I knew you’d be back,” the demon said.
Ralph reached out and put his hand on the demon’s shoulder. His act of kindness was all it took to break Teggarimor’s spell.
The demon danced a little jig for his savior. “Thank you!”
“You’re welcome,” Ralph said as he turned to go. He passed through the doorway without looking back.
As the door closed, the once-helpless little demon began assuming his true form. Morpheus smiled and followed Ralph into the hall.