Two women sat in a room, worried expressions on their faces. The older of the two, Molly Scott, glanced from time to time at the three infants lying on a couch. Since the five of them had arrived, she had been too worried about the rest of her family to let the children out of her sight. Now she and her stepdaughter, Jennie-Lynn Hayden, sat waiting.
The night passed in silence, neither of them daring to move for fear that they might miss the return of their loved ones.
Just before dawn, the darkened room was lit by a glow, which grew into a halo surrounding a shadowy globe. The globe split apart and disappeared, leaving four persons in its place.
“Alan!” cried Molly, leaping from her seat to embrace her husband. Alan Scott held his wife close as he scanned the room. Seeing everybody accounted for, he relaxed in her arms.
“Todd! Hank! Thank God you’re all right!” cried Jennie as she wrapped her arms around both of the young men.
Standing apart from the others, Stephanie Harrigan sighed. This was a family moment, one that she did not feel comfortable joining. She moved to check on the Scott triplets, the reason she and the others had traveled to another world. Little Sarah, Adam, and Megan slept soundly.
“Where do you think you’re going, young lady?” said Alan.
Steph turned to find Alan and Molly standing right behind her.
“You’re a part of this family now,” he continued.
“Umm, Dad,” said Todd Rice, feeling a bit uneasy at the assumption being made about a young lady he had met on a blind date less than twelve hours earlier.
“Brothers and sisters in fire, Todd,” said Alan, recognizing his son’s concern. “It took all of us, working together, to defeat the Light.”
“What about Frances?” asked Jennie Lynn, as she realized that the group was short one person. An uncomfortable silence fell over the room.
“Frances wasn’t who… wasn’t what we thought she was,” said Todd in a low voice. “She was some creature called the Phoenix, who came here to steal the power of the Starheart.”
“No, no! That can’t be! We saw the blood test results! She’s Dad’s daughter!” Tears flowed freely down Jennie-Lynn’s cheeks as she tried to assimilate the revelation that the woman she thought was her older sister, whom she’d grown very close to over the past year, was a fraud. Hank King held her as the sobs racked her body. The rest looked on, unable to find words to comfort the young heroine.
The morning after the Scott family’s return, Alan and Molly sat on their veranda, finishing breakfast.
“I still can’t believe that the Phoenix fooled us all, dear. Everything she told us seemed to be true.”
In between sips of coffee, Alan nodded. “I know. I mean, the story of this bizarre plot by the Black Shadow organization that gave birth to Frances seemed so outlandish, yet we could never find anything to contradict it. (*) The blood tests, and most of all, Todd’s experience with his late mother and her ancestors.” He paused, deep in thought. “The Frances Kane who went to Thanagar with us may not have been my daughter, but she did say that she had taken the place of the real Frances Kane.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Jade and Obsidian: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Chapter 3: Long-Lost Sister.]
“Are you going to tell Jennie-Lynn and Todd?”
Alan stood, and a green glow surrounded him. “Not until I’m sure.” The glow dissipated, and his robe and lounge pants were replaced by the many-colored costume of the Green Lantern. “But I will find out the truth.”
By noon, Green Lantern was descending over the small town of Blue Valley, Nebraska. His first stop was the town’s police department. He landed before the small, gray stone building and walked inside. An officer sat at a desk, typing up a report.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for information on a young woman who lives near here.”
The officer didn’t look up from his typewriter. “Sure thing. If you can give me just a minute to finish this up…” His voice trailed off as his two index fingers moved slowly over the keyboard, hunting for the elusive letters needed to complete his report. It took him several minutes to finish his task. When he was done, he pulled the paper from the typewriter with a flourish. “There! That didn’t take too long, did it?” He turned to look at the tall figure patiently waiting before the desk. “Yipe! Green Lantern?”
“Guilty as charged,” replied the wielder of the power ring with a smile.
“Good grief! I’m so sorry I kept you waiting.” Sergeant Bill Malone glanced around. “Are you here by yourself, or is the rest of the Justice Society with you? This isn’t one of those big alien attacks or anything like that, is it?”
“No, I’m just here looking for some information, Officer, umm…” The hero paused, reading the name off the officer’s badge. “…Malone. I’m trying to track down a young woman named Frances Kane. I understand she lived around here.”
“Oh, yeah, Frankie Kane. Sheesh, now there’s a real odd case for you!” Seeing the stern look on Green Lantern’s face, Sergeant Malone backtracked. “I mean, here she was, your normal teenager, and the next thing we know, her dad and brother are dead, and her mother is blaming poor Frankie for it. Her mom practically drove the poor kid out of her life. That was about seven or eight years ago, now. Last I heard, though, they patched things up before Mrs. Kane passed away.”
Green Lantern nodded. This all agreed with what the false Frances Kane had told him and his family. “Why did Mrs. Kane blame Frances for the deaths?”
“She kept talking about how Frankie, err, that is, Frances, was some sort of devil or something. Said she made stuff fly around the house and things like that.”
“Where did the accident happen? Could you direct me to the site?” A green-tinted map of the area appeared in the air between the two men.
“It was out on county route five, about a half-mile past Howlett Hill Road.” Malone pointed to a spot on the map, and the image changed to an enlarged view of the immediate area. “Yeah, the car was in that ravine, just past the Miller’s driveway… Hey! Maps don’t show stuff like that!”
“They do when I use the power ring to store a picture image of the whole area as I fly over,” responded Green Lantern. “I thought it might be useful in my search.”
“Can you give me a phone number, so I can call you the next time widow Humphries wanders off? That poor old lady takes off walking some days, and it takes us hours to track her down.” Malone looked back at the map. “Yeah, that’s where we found them.” A bright dot appeared in a spot that he touched with his fingertip.
Green Lantern reached out and took the officer’s hand in his own. “Can you spare me an hour or so? I’ll return you here immediately if there’s an emergency.”
The glowing image swelled up, until it wrapped around the two men. When it faded, they were gone.
A green sphere soared through the air over Blue Valley, coming to rest beside a ravine outside of town. It dissolved, leaving behind a uniformed police officer and the tall, caped figure of the Green Lantern.
“Holy smokes! What a way to travel!” Sergeant Bill Malone bent over, his hands on his knees, catching his breath. Green Lantern grinned.
“You get used to it after a while.” He brought his left hand up in front of his face and concentrated on it. The power ring flared, and an image appeared of a car in the ravine. The glow intensified, and the car backed out of the ravine and onto the road. About sixty feet from the ravine, a burst of energy erupted briefly around the car. The scene froze.
“What the heck is that?” asked the police officer.
“According to Frances Kane, that’s what happened when she, her father, and her brother crashed back in 1979, when she was nineteen years old. Latent traces of chemicals from the car, disturbances in the soil, and tire patterns on the road surface all match up. She had a form of electromagnetic powers, but they had been latent until that day, when something set them off. Hmm… from up there.” Green Lantern pointed, and Malone noticed a green tendril extending from the energy burst, extending to a silhouette of a figure high above them. “So, it wasn’t Fran’s fault that they died.”
“Who is that up there?” asked Malone.
“I don’t know. But whoever it was stood there on that spot eight years ago. I’m going to see if I can use a tachyon pulse to enhance the image with my ring.” Green Lantern did so, and the silhouette shimmered slightly, taking on both form and color. They could now see a man in a dark blue armored suit with a helmet and a red cape. His arms were extended toward the scene of the accident.
“Very interesting,” said Green Lantern, one eyebrow raised. “I recognize him, but just barely. He was one of Wonder Woman’s old foes, and even fought the All-Star Squadron once or twice. He called himself Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder. (*) Without any more information, I can only surmise that Nuclear somehow found out about Frances Kane’s latent magnetism and tried to tap into that power for a reason I can’t even begin to guess at. The accident must have been caused by an electromagnetic energy burst when he tried it. After the years of guilt she felt over the accident, she’ll be happy to know she wasn’t responsible for it. Doesn’t help me find her now, though.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Magnetic Marauder,” All-Star Squadron #16 (December, 1982) and “Nuclear Returns,” Wonder Woman #43 (September-October, 1950).]
“Come to think of it, you know, Frankie left Blue Valley for a few months a while back,” said Malone. “She came back when she found out her mother was dying, but from what I hear, she was living in Kansas City for a while. After her mother’s funeral, I heard she was trying to sell the house.” As the green image faded away, Malone turned to the hero. “So, how did you come to find she was missing?”
“A short time ago we met, and I found out that we may be related. Then the Frances Kane that I knew was revealed to be an impostor, but she implied that she had taken the place of the real Frances Kane.”
“Whoa. I had no idea Frankie was so well-connected.” The radio unit on Malone’s belt came to life. He lifted it to his ear for a moment, then looked at Green Lantern. “Umm, that was the county dispatcher. They’ve got a problem over at Belmont School.”
Once again, a green globe formed around the two men. “Just point the way.”
“Todd? Are you there?” Jennie-Lynn Hayden poked her head in through the door, looking around the apartment. She pulled her key from the knob and stepped inside. From the small bedroom that Todd used as a meditation and exercise room, she heard the strains of Pink Floyd. Advancing to the door, she knocked lightly.
“C’mon in, sis.” She opened the door, finding the room in darkness. Heavy curtains covered the one window, and the only light in the room came from a fluorescent black-light bulb above the door. In the center of the room, on a mat of woven bamboo, sat Todd Rice. His bare legs were drawn up under his body, his outstretched arms angled down so his wrists rested on his knees. As light spilled into the room, he unfolded his legs and stood up. “I sort of figured you’d be here sooner or later.”
Jennie leaned against the doorframe and crossed her arms. “Yeah, all this stuff that went down yesterday, well, I figured you’d want to talk. I know I do.”
Together, they went out to the apartment’s small kitchen. Todd took glasses from a cabinet and a bottle of orange juice from the refrigerator, pouring a glass for each of them before he sat down at the table with his sister. “It’s about Frankie, isn’t it?”
“Good God, Todd, how the hell did she manage to fool us all for nearly a year?” Jennie laid her head on one hand. “She gave us that story about freak magnetic powers and her dad and brother being killed. Then her mother died, just before we found her. Yeah, right!”
“I was thinking about it, too, sis. But I realized that she wasn’t the one who claimed she was our sister. Remember?” Todd jumped up, ran out to the living room, and came back with a large, ornate book that had been resting in a place of honor on the bookcase. “It was Mama and her ancestors who told us about Frankie’s origin.”
“Then, if the Frances Kane that we knew was a fake, but our mother’s family has proof that the real Frances Kane is our sister, then what’s happened to her?”
Laying the book on the table, Todd concentrated for a second. His body was encased by shadow, which cleared to reveal a figure with a featureless black face, clad in a bejeweled costume of black, gray, and midnight blue. “We need to go to the realm of the Silver Phoenix and find out,” said Obsidian.
“Todd? What happened to your costume? That’s your original one.” Jennie’s birthmark flared, leaving her clad in a white and emerald costume. Her hair and skin were now a brilliant, emerald green.
“To tell you the truth, I’m a little uneasy. Everything that happened last year, finding our mother and her family, discovering that I have powers based in light as well as darkness, that was all tied in with our meeting Frankie.” Despite the apparent lack of facial features, Jade could see the concern on her brother’s face. “All of that, oh, I don’t know, but it might have all been staged, you know? So, I thought I would go back to basics, go with what I know works.”
“You really gave this a lot of thought last night, didn’t you?”
“All night long, sis.” Obsidian laid his hands on the book, and Jade laid her hands over his. “Let’s go.”