by Starsky Hutch 76, Anubis8 and Vendikarr DeWuff
Helena Wayne raced along the wide open plain of Paradise Island on the sleek, black stallion she had been given by her companion to ride. Times like this felt good — to be out in the open air after being cooped up for so long. She had jumped into her Amazonian warrior’s training with a renewed enthusiasm, excelling at archery, hand-to-hand combat, target practice — with both knives and boomerangs, which would come in handy with her batarangs — and various other activities her physicians had selected to put her through her paces in order to make sure she would be ready to resume the role of Huntress.
She would miss the friends she had made at Paradise Island, particularly Donna, who managed the stables. She was a mortal woman like her who had been rescued by Wonder Woman years ago as an infant and brought here to be adopted by Hippolyta. In essence, that made her Wonder Woman’s sister. It was strange that Diana had never mentioned her before. Donna was a horsewoman after her own heart and shared her love for these exotic Arabians. Since beginning her law career and her life as the Huntress, she hadn’t had the time to spend riding as she’d once had growing up at Wayne Manor. It had thrilled her to discover the stables and to meet Donna. Helena had spent many hours riding and talking with her.
Donna caught up with her, galloping up on a beautiful palomino mare, which was light golden brown with a flaxen blonde mane and tail. “You nearly got away from me there,” she laughed, out of breath. “I guess it’s safe to say you are now fully recovered.”
“I guess you could say that,” Helena laughed. “I’ll probably return home soon.”
“I’ll hate to see you go,” Donna said. “There aren’t many here who share my love for these animals to the extent that you do. And it has been nice to meet someone from my homeland.”
“You should come and visit me some time,” Helena said. “You could see the stables at Wayne Manor. We don’t have the variety out there that we used to, but after spending time here, I might have to change that. You could help me.”
“I might just do that,” Donna said. “I’ll bring the subject up with the queen.”
Helena looked up at the sky and saw a familiar figure approaching the island. “Perhaps I’ll be leaving even sooner than I thought,” she said. “Or maybe it just seems soon, considering how my time here has flown by.”
“Who is it?” Donna asked.
“It’s my good friend Kara, or Power Girl, as most people know her. When we get back, I’ll introduce you to her.” They turned on their horses and swiftly rode to the main city.
On the steps leading into the main temple on Paradise Island, Power Girl was greeted by Queen Hippolyta.
Hippolyta and Kara Zor-L embraced, and Hippolyta began to speak as she released her arms from around her. “Kara, it’s wonderful to see you again! We’ve missed your fire and spirit here on the island. It’s been far too long since you’ve visited us.”
“Hello, Hippolyta. I’ve missed you as well. It feels like it was a lifetime ago since I last visited you,” she said as she and the queen began walking through the temple toward the outside gardens. “I apologize for my lack of visits, but unfortunately, as you know, things have been rather… crazy in the outside world.”
Hippolyta put her arm around Kara’s shoulder and said, “Crazy is an understatement, my dear. But I believe that I know just the thing to get your spirits up.”
Kara looked at Hippolyta as they exited the temple into the main garden. “Other guests?” she said. “Who else will–?” Suddenly, she was cut off by the sound of her name being called. She turned to see Helena and Donna, galloping up astride their horses.
“Hello, Kara,” Helena said as she dismounted from her stallion. “It’s great to see you again.”
“Helena, you’re OK!” she said as the two women embraced. “I guess that I’m the one who should be saying that,” Power Girl said. “You’re looking much better than the last time I saw you.”
“I’ll have to take your word for it,” Helena said. “I wasn’t exactly able to look into a mirror at the time.”
“So who’s your friend?” Power Girl asked.
“This is Donna,” Helena said. “She runs the stables here, raising these beautiful animals. I came out of my coma just a few days ago. Completely healed, but very confused and disoriented. Luckily, Diana was still here along with Jennie-Lynn and Lyta.” Smiling over at Queen Hippolyta, she continued, “They, along with Hippolyta, were able to get me up to date with everything that has happened since my injury.”
“Everything?” Kara said as she felt her face flush.
Helena continued, “Well, not exactly everything, but most of the major events going on with both the JSA and Sylvester and the rest of Infinity Inc. Why? Is there anything else I need to know?”
“Can we talk somewhere private?” Kara asked. “There’s something that I need to talk to you about.”
“Why, Kara, this isn’t like you at all!” Helena responded. “This is a whole new side to you. What’s happened since I’ve been gone?”
Kara looked back to Hippolyta and asked, “Hippolyta, Donna, will you excuse us?”
Hippolyta, already aware of what was about to transpire, simply smiled and nodded. “Of course, Kara. We’ll meet up with you and Helena later.”
They exited the temple and began to stroll through the outside courtyard.
“What’s wrong, Kara?”
“Where to begin?” Kara laughed sadly. “I feel so bad that I haven’t been with you through this ordeal.” She sighed heavily. “I haven’t heard from Kal since the end of the Crisis, and I don’t know what’s happened to him. There was a chance he might not be able to make it back, but I thought if anyone could, it would be him. But then he didn’t, and you were hurt, and… I couldn’t…”
“It’s OK,” Helena said, embracing her friend. “I understand.”
“Helena, you’re my best friend, and you’ve done so much for me since I’ve gotten here. You’ve helped me get used to living on a strange world, taught me the meaning of true friendship, and more importantly, you’ve helped me cope with dealing with others and addressing my feelings.
“Well, now there are feelings that I’m experiencing for the first time, and at first I was confused, but as time went on and I began to understand what it was I was feeling, it all made sense.” Kara looked over at Helena as they continued to walk. “And now that I do understand, I want to share it with everyone, but first I wanted to share it with two special people first — you, my best friend, and the man that I’ve fallen in love with.”
“What?!” Helena exclaimed as she stopped to look at her friend. Smiling, she said, “Kara, are you telling me that you have finally fallen in love? Well, don’t keep me in suspense. Who is it? Is it someone I know?”
“Know?” Kara asked. “Umm, actually, you know him extremely well. In fact, it’s safe to say that you probably know him better than anyone else does.”
“Kara, are you talking about who I think it is that you’re talking about?”
“Yes, Helena,” she said as a smile made its way across her lips. “It is. I’m in love with Dick Grayson.”
“And that’s one of the reasons you were afraid to see me?” Helena laughed. “That’s so silly!”
“But there always seemed to be something between you,” Kara said cautiously.
“Sure there was,” Helena said, “a brother/sister thing. We went down that road a long time ago and knew there would never be anything more. How could there be? The same man practically raised us both. I’m happy for you both. Two of the three people I care the most for in the world together. How could that make me anything but happy?”
She gave Kara a long hug, then said, “I think that it’s about time I rejoined the rest of the world. Want to help me pack my stuff?”
“Sure,” Power Girl responded. “After we finish getting you packed, we’ll have some lunch with Hippolyta, and then we can head back.”
The two Supermen arrived at the farm after the long flight from Gotham City. The senior Superman had noted that a tunnel would be necessary so that their comings and goings would not be noticed. He decided to have Clark Junior handle that project in the morning.
The JSA meeting had run much longer than he planned, what with no word on Ted Knight’s disappearance since his visit to San Francisco, and all of this talk of the Junior JSA. (*) Clark Kent wasn’t sure about that idea, but maybe it would do Clark Kent Junior some good to spend time with youngsters like himself.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Starman: Stars and Sliders.]
Landing outside the house, they entered and were greeted by Lois Lane Kent. “Glad you’re home, boys. But you couldn’t call?” asked Lois.
The younger Clark looked at his adopted father, and the senior Clark responded, “Sorry, Lois. I was in such a hurry to get home to you, I didn’t want to waste precious minutes calling. Forgive me?” He smiled at his wife.
She smiled back and replied, “You get me with that every time. Yes, you’re forgiven. Now, Clark Junior, go wash up. I need to speak with your father.”
“Yes, ma’am,” was the younger Clark’s reply, and he left the room.
“Clark, I have a surprise for you. Alexander Luthor Junior is alive.”
Shocked, he replied, “Alive? How? Where is he? I thought he was lost for sure.”
“He landed in New York City and was nursed back to health over the past several weeks. He’s here now in the bunkhouse.” She paused, then added, “Clark, I’ve told him he can stay with us.”
“That’s fine, Lois. He can stay in the bunkhouse for a little while. I should notify the JSA. Maybe he can help us with breaking the barriers between worlds. Maybe–”
“Oh, sorry to ramble on. Yes, hon?”
“He wants to live here. I’m the only family he has here.”
A frown crossed Clark’s face, he thought for a moment, then responded, “Lois, you’re not his family. Your Earth-Three counterpart was.”
“I know that, Clark. But he has no one. We took in Superboy, why not Alexander?”
“Because we are retired, and we will have our hands full raising Clark. I don’t think it would work out. Besides, he’s a Luthor.”
“Clark Kent,” Lois said, the old fire in her voice, “when have I ever known you to generalize about anyone? His father was the greatest hero of his world, and without him, the Anti-Monitor would have destroyed us all. And he helped us survive at the end. We owe him more than anyone in the multiverse.”
“You’re right of course, Lois. I just don’t feel comfortable having him around. I can’t put a finger on it, so don’t ask me to.”
“Clark, he’s staying. I know I should have asked you first, but what’s done is done. Now you go out there and tell him dinner is ready, and I’ll finish up.”
“Yes, ma’am,” replied Clark Kent, the mightiest man on the planet, humbled after the rules had been laid out by his wife.
He exited the farmhouse, taking the trip to the bunkhouse behind the barn, and noticed the entire building illuminated.
Clark entered the bunkhouse, lights glowing all over the building. Clark found it strange, since the building hadn’t even been wired for that kind of power being used here. At the end of the hallway leading toward the showers, he saw a black hole of absolutely nothing in the doorway. And he saw someone walking out of that black hole, pushing a cart of some kind. The young man looked up and called out.
“Mr. Kent, good to see you. It’s me, Alexander.” Alexander Luthor Junior then stepped away from his cart and walked toward him, while Clark strode forward to split the distance.
Clark put on a smile and shook Alexander’s hand, not too firmly, and said, “Alexander, it’s great to see you alive. Lois mentioned she invited you to stay, but I have to ask, what are you doing?”
“I need to prepare for what’s to come,” replied Alex gravely. “There are problems here, and someone must watch for them.”
“What kind of problems?”
“The rapid creation of new super-beings on this world, for example — invasion, for another. My monitors recorded an incursion from the antimatter universe recently. (*) An antimatter power signature still registers.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Green Lantern: Emerald Renaissance, Chapter 2: The Weaponer.]
“The Anti-Monitor? We finished him off, didn’t we?”
“Mr. Kent, the readings are nowhere near the Anti-Monitor’s levels. It appears to have been a Weaponer from Qward.”
“Alexander, maybe we should notify the JSA about this. They can take action on things.”
“Mr. Kent, no. I don’t find the current incursion to be a problem… yet. But once I do, it will be dealt with.”
“Alex, I will take your word on this, if you’ll just do one thing for me.”
“Please, call me Clark. Mr. Kent was my father.” He grinned.
Alex broke into a grin, too, and agreed. Then Clark asked, “Alex, where did you get this equipment? It’s a bit too advanced to have been created here.”
“This is from the Monitor’s cache left here on this world. He left equipment and weapons on all of the key Earths. I want to bring it here for my use and safekeeping. There are powerful weapons here that I don’t want falling into the wrong hands.”
“What you you going to do with this stuff, Alex?” asked Clark.
“I have decided to become the new Monitor and watch over this world, keeping it safe from harm. The location of your home is perfect for my needs. It’s isolated and well-protected. If it’s all right with you, I will be adding additional security measures to this building to keep it and its contents safe.”
“Alexander, I don’t want the troubles of the world landing in my backyard. I’m retired now, and want to keep my identity a secret. That would be tough to do with super-villains or alien invaders landing on my farm.”
“Clark, no one will know I am here. No one really knows I am even still alive, with the exception of the man who cared for me and your friend James Olsen. I have adopted an identity of my own. I am known as Alexander Lane, your wife’s nephew.”
“My nephew, eh? Well, except for the red hair, you look enough like Lois to pull it off. I’ll have to have a chat with Jimmy and make sure he keeps the secret.”
“You should speak with him very soon. He’s already made me agree to an interview.”
“He has, has he?” said Clark. “Well, I’m sure I could convince him to drop the idea in exchange for an exclusive on the return of Superman and the debut of Superboy.”
“Thank you, Uncle Clark,” Alexander said, then gazed at the older man to see his reaction.
Grinning at Alexander, Clark replied, “Uncle Clark — it fits. Oh, and Lois wanted me to let you know dinner is ready. You’d better close that ink-spot you have there and come in to dinner. We don’t want to make Lois mad.”
“Of course not, Uncle Clark.” Alexander turned, walked back to the portal and touched the doorframe, returning it to normal. The two men then headed back to the house for dinner.