Meanwhile, Hawkman and Hawkgirl found themselves in New Feithera facing the smirking Anton Hastor once again.
“I brought you here for our final duel!” said their ancient enemy, the reincarnated Hath-Set. “One last gallant effort on your part and one last deadly victory for me! When we finish here, one of us shall be dead… only, thanks to my allies, this death will be a lasting one with no possible reincarnation for the loser!”
Carter Hall produced the crystalline knife that had started it all so long ago. “I wager your dark master Set would love a world of lifeless beings,” he said. “That is your general idea, is it not?”
“True! I only posed as an Anubis priest while the shadows grew, as did my power until your cursed rebellion so long ago!” he said, placing his own hand on the hilt, and though they stood immobile, their astral forms waged war silently above as they had in the past.
Shiera Hall started to will herself into the fray when Worla waved her over. “What is it?” she cried. “Hawkman needs me!”
The wise old bird-man said, “Nevertheless, heed me, pretty nestling, and you shall find victory!”
Carter struggled with Hastor as their astral forms locked hands and wrestled, with desperation etched upon the ghostly visages.
“This time I win!” sneered Hastor. “And I’ll make sure your son dies still hating you!”
“I will always find a way to beat you!” vowed Hawkman. “It is our destiny!”
Shiera and Worla whispered, and she took a palm-sized device. She pressed a button, and a glowing field materialized around Hastor’s body.
“It’s the globlass field you boasted of to Worla earlier!” she said, smiling. “He says it won’t drop even for your own command, now that you’ve left your body! If you fail to return to it soon, you’ll dissipate!”
Anton Hastor gasped and saw his situation worsen as Hawkman’s brawny might and indomitable spirit made manifest in the astral form ensured his victory. “Release the field!” he pleaded. “I’ll be trapped as a ghost forever between the realms if you do not yield!”
Hawkman remained firm and watched the evil priest shatter into misty vapor with a faint scream. “The duel was your choice, and your protective field stolen from Worla’s people spelled your own doom,” he said grimly as Shiera embraced him.
“And you and Worla won it for me!” said Carter to his wife. “You deserve full membership, not reserve status in the JSA! That has been long overdue!”
Shiera smiled and silently agreed.
As Wotan, Woden, and Kulak assailed the humanoid figure with dark magicks, the JSA raced to attack the malevolent trio. They met with strong opposition until Doctor Fate took a drastic step unheard of during his time as Nabu’s minion.
He removed the helmet and separated into Kent and Inza Nelson. Then he donned it again to become Fate solely as Kent. He could still do this if needed, but now he felt oddly incomplete. He did not care for the sensation at all.
Inza stepped forward and said, “Woden, you are my son, in a manner of speaking, and if the lawful magic within you means anything, you’ll stop this mad act!”
Woden frowned. “The law within me is merely there to serve my sire. I cannot feel anything else for you but contempt!”
“Well said!” cried Wotan. “Slay the wench!”
Woden stepped forward as Inza placed her arms around his neck. “I won’t believe any child that came even partly from the love and Kent and I share could harm me!” she said firmly.
Kent Nelson, as Doctor Fate, saw the same spirit and fire within her that had first mesmerized him long ago. He felt little risk, since they had formed this plan while merged as one.
As Woden hesitated, Fate struck. Blazing energy flamed into the young man as Inza and Kent merged anew, nearly atop the heir of Wotan.
“As you are a conduit to law and our power for Wotan, so may you serve as a conduit to his own foul wizardry for us!” vowed Doctor Fate.
The mystical ankh glowed over the trio and slowly irradiated the humanoid, who embodied all life force.
Green Lantern took his cue and led Superman and Power Girl forward in an assault on Wotan and Kulak. A green fire blazed across the three-eyed wizard, and he flinched as the magical light blinded him while failing to burn him.
The two Kryptonians slammed into Wotan with all their might, and his concentration failed as he shielded his body.
“What’s wrong, you diabolical Kermit?” sneered Power Girl. “Can’t you take a physical attack?” Superman slugged the ancient wizard even as he was shoved back by a magical shield.
“I shall never place myself in danger from your brutal tactics!” said Wotan. “I shall merely summon aid from Kulak’s newly opened realm to the dead! Come forth, Malignon!”
Woden shuddered as he found himself trapped in a weird union with those who comprised Fate. He was still linked to Wotan and Kulak, but now found them growing dimmer as Fate’s power grew brighter.
“Is this what you wanted?” asked Inza as she received her own answer.
“Yes! We now flood Kulak’s realm with life energy through the humanoid embodiment of all life. Kulak hoped to slay all by this creation, and now we use it against him, thanks to the bond you forged with Woden during his birth!”
Kulak shuddered and vanished from sight as his precious realm of the unliving was suddenly filled with living energy via the will of Fate and the humanoid gateway. Rather than lose all he had, the wizard plunged back to his own realm and shut off the link to the fading humanoid.
Wotan watched in dismay as not Malignon but a healed and still-youthful Jim Rock Jr. emerged through the pale humanoid gateway.
“This stripling wears not the raiment of Chaos and is of no use to me!” Wotan cursed, then screamed as he was sucked within the opening to Kulak’s realm.
“Do we risk this link for a higher purpose while it lasts?” suggested Doctor Fate. “Do we bring back Batman, Mister Terrific, the Crimson Avenger, and all our other fallen allies?”
“Could you really do that?” asked the Flash. “Could we give Terry a second chance?”
“Do it!” said Wildcat desperately. “Do it, and let the consequences fall where they may!”
The Huntress and Red Robin exchanged glances. “A chance to bring back Batman?! Can it be?” asked Red Robin. The Huntress held him as she prayed silently.
Then the doorway closed with a soft hiss, and Doctor Fate fell to his knees. “It is too late!” he said. “All that could be saved was Jim Rock! I consider that a just return for my failures to do more back in 1960.”
The others regretted anew the loss of their old friends, and Fate considered letting this memory fade from the minds of all for their own peace of mind. Still, this was more the way of Nabu than of the Nelsons, so they let all feel and remember what emotions came to them and made them human.
“What of Woden?” asked Green Lantern.
Doctor Fate spoke softly. “He vanished. I know not where to or under what conditions. He may be with the living or dead, but I hope he is at peace.”
Hawkman and Hawkgirl arrived at that instant.
“Hastor is in a coma at New Feithera!” said Carter. “Worla beat him by devising a counter weapon for the one Hastor forced him to surrender. It proved his undoing. There can be no reincarnation while his body remains in a coma!”
Back at the JSA Brownstone, the team took stock of the case.
“So the very link to the Ring of Life that allowed Kulak to tap into the rubies and come here also let you flood the realm of death with living energy of your own?” asked Red Robin.
“Indeed, young Robin,” said Doctor Fate. “That proved our victory card and even freed Jim Rock Jr.”
“His second chance is rightly deserved,” said Hawkgirl. “He says he recalls nothing after stabbing himself back in 1960.”
“So, is baby Celeste OK?” said the Flash.
“Yes, she is, and Alan has agreed to be her godfather!” announced Doctor Fate, looking over at Green Lantern. Alan Scott was grinning proudly.
“Wow! Pregnancy and birth all in a few days!” said Power Girl, smiling. “That’s some metabolism you got there!”
“Fellow members, I ask that we formally make Shiera a member in full, not just a reservist or sub, but a true full-time member at last!” said Hawkman. “She has earned it, not just in this case, but in dozens over the years!”
They voted unanimously, and Hawkgirl smiled happily. She had mixed feelings, since she had come to love acting as leader of her own little team in the JSA Reserves, but she was still glad to have finally made it to this day. “Thanks, all! Don’t ask me to be your secretary, either. I’m a bad speller!” she joked.
“Plus, this ex-debutante doesn’t want to break a nail!” joked the Flash as she shot him a mock look of anger.
“So what happened to the rubies?” asked Power Girl.
“Nothing,” said Red Robin. “They were found back at the fight scene, and Fate says they are each drained empty of all magical power.”
“Thank goodness. Those stones caused us trouble from the very day we first saw them!” mused Green Lantern.
In a realm of Limbo, a young man sat alone. His name was Woden, and he felt very alone, indeed.
Rejected by Chaos and by Order — where does that leave me? he thought. A warrior without a cause must surely live an empty life. Where indeed did that leave him?