Stellar Studios, Los Angeles, California:
Sylvester Pemberton looked up at the clock on his desk. “One-fifty-five. Everyone should be here. Lyta wouldn’t calm down until I sent the signal out to everyone. I can understand her being upset about Hector’s taking off like that, but he’s a big boy. He can take care of himself.”
Picking up papers from his desk, he made his way down to the meeting hall. The past few days had been nothing if not eventful. According to the others, the Patriot and the JSA had been gone for more than a week, yet to them it had only been a few hours. (*) Not that he had felt like he had contributed much to the mission; he felt more like an extra in a big budget movie: he was there, but he never got much screen time.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ragnarok.]
And then there was the call from David Knight. Ted Knight, his old friend and mentor, had disappeared without a trace some months ago, and it seemed that a search had turned up nothing. (*) Ted had been trying to breach the barrier between Earths One and Two. Maybe the old man succeeded after all, but now he couldn’t get back. Sylvester had the feeling, though, that wherever Ted was, he was all right.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Starman: Stars and Sliders.]
As he entered the meeting room, an envelope fell from the papers he was carrying. It was addressed to Mr. Sylvester Pemberton III and Mr. Henry King, Junior. There was no return address.
Inside the meeting room, the assembled members of Infinity Inc. were waiting on their chairman: Nuklon (Al Rothstein), Brainwave (Henry King, Junior, his nephew); Fury (Hippolyta Trevor); Red Arrow (Roy Harper, a colleague of his from their days with the Seven Soldiers of Victory); the Ray (Ray Terrill, son of the original Ray); Midnight (Beth Chapel, protégée of Dr. Charles McNider); Rick Tyler (formerly Hourman, son of the original, but unable to take Miraclo any longer); Jesse Quick and her father, the former All-Star Squadron member Johnny Quick; and one Infinitor that he was surprised to see.
“Norda!” cried the Patriot.
“Hello, Sylvester,” said Norda Cantrell, the hero known as Northwind.
“Don’t get me wrong,” said Patriot. “I’m glad to see you, but I thought you were staying in New Feithera, helping to rebuild.”
“I was, but recent events have compelled me to return. I could not sit idly by, knowing that my childhood friend Hector may be in danger.”
Sylvester took his seat at the table. “Where are Jade and Obsidian?”
“They’re still in Gotham,” explained Brainwave. “I talked to Jennie-Lynn this morning. Seems she’s working with Corona out there, helping her to hone her powers. And Todd is… well, who knows when Todd is concerned?”
Nuklon looked at Brainwave with a bit of confusion. “Jade’s started drinking?”
“No, Al, the girl she’s working with…”
Suddenly, the meeting table shook as Fury pounded her fist on it. “Could we get on with this, please? Hector could be in terrible danger!”
Albert put his arm around Lyta. “Lyta, it’s gonna be OK.”
“Last time I saw Hec, the only thing he seemed to be in danger from was overexer–” Red Arrow replied, only to be cut off by the look of death on Fury’s face.
The room was decorated in an ancient Egyptian motif. Ornate hieroglyphics covered the walls. Ancient jewels sparkled brightly in the candlelight. Gold figurines adorned the tables.
On the bed, Hector Hall slept soundly. Helene Astor rose from the bed, draped only in a sheet. She opened a box filled with powders and potions. “Soon, dear Hector, you will be mine, body and soul. Well, if you had a soul, that is. And won’t Khufu and Shiera be surprised to find their only son sleeping with their most hated enemy.”
The Patriot banged the gavel on the table. “OK, folks, let’s call our first meeting of 1986 to order. First off, I’d like to welcome all the new members we’ve picked up since the Crisis: Rick, Beth, Roy, Ray, and Jesse. Arthur called in earlier and said he would be late — some royal function in Atlantis. Johnny’s agreed to stick around for a while and help train the new arrivals. Our first and only order of business is the abrupt departure of Hector Hall. Beth, you and Roy were at that club that night, and–” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Infinity Inc: To Infinity and Beyond, Chapter 2: Sons of the Golden Age.]
He was interrupted by the sudden shaking of the building and the sound of something like an elephant hitting a wall at sixty miles an hour.
“What the hell?” Rick Tyler said as the walls continued to reverberate.
“It’s coming from outside. Let’s go, group. Rick, you’d better stay here.”
“Not on your life, flag-boy,” Rick said to himself as he followed the Infinitors out the door.
As they rushed outside, the Infinitors were startled to see a massive figure with chalk-white skin.
“Solomon Grundy!” they cried in unison.
Grundy turned to face the heroes as his enormous fists hit the building one more time. “Where Green Lantern? Little dark man say Green Lantern in here, so Grundy smash building until Green Lantern come out. You not Green Lantern.”
The Patriot assessed the situation for a moment. “Johnny, Jesse, distract Grundy. Lyta, Al, when he’s disoriented, take him out.”
“Somehow I think not, my dear Mr. Pemberton.”
A voice from the sky revealed itself to be the Shade, held aloft on a platform of shadows. Accompanying him were the Wizard, the Huntress, the Sportsmaster, the Thinker, the Fiddler, and the Psycho-Pirate. It was the latest incarnation of the Injustice Society of the World.
“You see, we promised dear Solomon he could kill Green Lantern today, and thanks to the Psycho-Pirate, Grundy now sees all of you as his eternal foe.”
Grundy’s eyes turned wide. “Green Lantern! Everywhere Green Lantern! Grundy kill all Green Lanterns!”
“And, yes,” the Shade intoned as Grundy approached the Infinitors, “we’re here to help him do just that.” And, of course, the Shade thought to himself, keep you distracted while our young villains-in-training kidnap poor Jennie-Lynn Hayden.
Fury suddenly found herself on Paradise Island. From a distance she could see her mother Diana and her grandmother Hippolyta waving to her. As she got closer, Lyta could also see two other figures there: her father, Steve Trevor, and her boyfriend, Hector Hall.
Hector ran up to Lyta and embraced her, and she was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. “Hector, how…?”
Smiling at her, Hector brushed the hair out of her eyes. “Looks like someone’s been daydreaming again.”
“Daydreaming? What do you mean?”
“About our wedding. It is tomorrow, after all. Look, up in the sky! It’s my parents!”
As Lyta turned her gaze skyward, she saw Hawkman and Hawkgirl arrive and land on the ground beside her parents and grandmother.
Lyta ran over to Hawkman. “Wait! You can’t touch the ground! It’s–”
Hippolyta touched her granddaughter’s arm. “Hush, child. Surely you haven’t forgotten that the gods granted us special dispensation to allow young Hector and your father, as well as all your male guests, to touch our sacred ground for this most special occasion.”
Lyta looked over the faces in front of her, all smiling. “This… this can’t be right. It’s not… real…”
Fury closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, she saw a battle raging all around her. Nuklon was locked in combat with Solomon Grundy; Red Arrow and Midnight were fending off the Huntress and the Sportsmaster; the Ray was reaching a stalemate against the Shade; Patriot, Brainwave, and Northwind were dancing without control to the music of the Fiddler; Johnny and Jesse Quick were arguing with each other while the Psycho-Pirate watched with glee; and as she turned around, Lyta found herself confronted by the Thinker.
The Thinker nearly jumped out of his suit as Fury leaped up and at him. “No, you couldn’t have…” he began, terrified. “How did you break out of my trance?!”
Fury hauled the Thinker up by his jacket, snatching his helmet off his head. “You made the scenario too perfect, Thinker, and there were some things even you couldn’t know.”
She took her middle finger and thumped the Thinker on the head, rendering him unconscious. Dropping him to the ground, she took off at full speed toward the Fiddler.
Meanwhile, Nuklon was beginning to lose ground against Solomon Grundy.
“Green Lantern strong. Not use ring. Why Green Lantern not use ring? Green Lantern scared of Grundy?”
“I am not Green Lant–” Albert was cut short as a concussion arrow fired by Red Arrow, and expertly deflected by the Sportsmaster, found its way to the small of Nuklon’s back. Grundy took the opportunity to deliver a blow to Albert’s head, and the red-haired giant fell to the ground.
“Wait! This not Green Lantern! This funny man with red stripe! Where Green Lantern go?” Grundy began to look around until he spotted someone to his left, hiding behind a few props. With a speed that belied his size, Grundy swept the props away, revealing Rick Tyler. “Green Lantern try to hide from me! But Grundy find you! Now Grundy smash!”
Solomon Grundy raised his fist and lowered it toward Rick as the world seemed to go in slow motion to the former Hourman. I’m sorry, Dad! Rick thought to himself as he instinctively raised his arms above his head, somehow hoping they could protect him from Grundy and block his powerful blow. A rush filled Rick’s head. He knew the time had come for him to die. Rick closed his eyes and said a silent prayer.
High above the scene, the Ray was reaching a stalemate against the Shade. For everything that the Ray came up with, the Shade easily deflected it. Ray was beginning to get aggravated. He couldn’t shake the feeling that the Shade was just toying with him.
“Looks like we’re evenly matched, Shade. Why don’t you just surrender and make this easy on yourself?” Ray said as he launched another barrage at the shadowy villain.
The Shade had a slight grin on his face. “Oh, yes, I suppose that would be a possibility… in an alternate reality where I was just another unintelligent fop who enjoyed perpetually losing to the JSA. I must say, young Ray, that you remind me a great deal of your father — all bark and no bite.”
Looking down to the battle below, the Shade noted that the young Infinitors were starting to gain the upper hand, but then he spotted a powerless Rick Tyler about to be pulverized by Solomon Grundy. He could not allow that. Without so much as a thought, the Shade sent out a tendril of shadows underneath and around the Ray. It struck the young hero on the back of the head and then gently dropped him to the ground, unconscious. The Shade turned his attention once more to Grundy and was genuinely surprised by what he saw.
Rick opened his eyes to see Grundy straining above him, his massive fist held in place by Rick’s outstretched hands. “What in the world? How can I be–? Oh, man! It’s happened again! I’ve got super-strength, and I never even took any Miraclo!”
His mind went back to just a few days ago when, after his birthday, he felt a surge of energy and had somehow regained his Miraclo-induced powers without having taken the drug. When Beth checked him out, he was physically healthy and was suffering no side effects. Excitedly, he called his father and told him about it, already planning to restart his heroic career under a new name. (*) But ever since then, he’d been unable to consciously give himself those powers again. Reluctantly, he and Beth had to admit that it must have been a fluke. Yet now it had happened again, when he found himself in a dangerous situation as before.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ragnarok Aftermath, Chapter 3: Miracles.]
“Grundy kill you!”
“Not today, Grundy!”
Deftly, Rick pushed Grundy’s fist up with hands, and in one swift motion, he took his leg and swept Grundy’s feet off the ground, knocking him off-balance. As Grundy’s eyes went wide, Rick landed an uppercut and sent Grundy flying over Stellar Studios.
“Wow! Rick Tyler really is back in the game.”
JSA Headquarters, Gotham City:
At the JSA Brownstone, a well-dressed woman knocked at the door. On monitor duty in her capacity as a JSA Reservist, Corona picked up the image at the front door and pressed the intercom.
“This is Corona. Can I help you?”
The woman looked up at where she thought the camera should be. “No, I wasn’t looking for a drink. I need to speak with Carter Hall.”
Corona shook her head. Again with the beer jokes. Even visitors were getting in on the act. “Can I ask who’s calling? Does Hawkman know who you are?”
“He probably knew me as a little girl, but he knew my father, Dr. James Rock. I’m his daughter, Dr. Jimmi Rock.”
“All right, I’m going to buzz you in. Just wait in the reception area. He’ll be right down.”
Moments later, Hawkman and Hawkgirl entered the room. “Dr. Rock?” said Carter Hall, who was still getting used to the new organic wings that he could grow right out of his back, thanks to the boon of the god Odin. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ragnarok Aftermath, Chapter 1: Taking Flight.]
The woman turned and faced the Hawks. She was dark-skinned, with upswept eyebrows, and her hair was pulled back in a conservative manner. She wore a dark blue skirt and jacket with a white blouse. “Dr. Hall, Mrs. Hall, it’s a pleasure to see you again after all these years.”
The Hawks exchanged handshakes with her.
“We’ve met?” Shiera Hall asked, not remembering the woman.
Dr. Jimmi Rock smiled. “Yes, actually, I was about five years old at the time. You and your husband stopped by my father’s house before you all went off to a dig in South America.”
Shiera nodded and smiled. “And how is your father? We haven’t heard from him since last Christmas.”
“I’m afraid my father passed on a few months ago.”
Hawkman spoke up. “I’m sorry to hear that. James Rock was a good friend and colleague. So what is it that we can do for you today?”
“Well, I thought you might be interested in this.” Jimmi handed Hawkman a picture of a glowing pyramid. “This pyramid appeared out of nowhere yesterday, in the middle of the Sahara. The Egyptian government contacted me, or rather, tried to contact my father, and I thought that you might be able to help me out. No one’s quite sure where it came from.”
Hawkman stared at the picture for a moment. “You did the right thing. Shiera, get the JSA Reserves together. We’re headed to Egypt.”
Dr. Jimmi Rock smiled. It’s all coming together, she thought. Soon, everything will be mine.
As Solomon Grundy sailed overhead, the Fiddler glanced in his direction but continued playing all the while. Patriot and Northwind continued to dance, while Brainwave collapsed to the ground, his body still moving spasmodically to the music.
“One down, two to go… Where she stops, nobody–” The Fiddler was suddenly interrupted as his fiddle disappeared from his hands. Like puppets with their strings cut, Sylvester Pemberton and Norda Cantrell dropped to the ground, exhausted.
Fury dropped down in front of the musician, his fiddle in her hands. “Looking for something?” She took the fiddle in her left hand and crushed it into dust.
The Fiddler gasped as though in agony. “No, no, not my baby. I… aaackkk!” He suddenly keeled over, making Fury wonder if he had a heart attack.
“Thanks for the save, Lyta. He’s just enjoying a little quiet time now,” Brainwave said as he got up from the ground. “Let’s get the others.”
Red Arrow and Midnight were locked in a virtual stalemate with the Sportsmaster and the Huntress when, out of nowhere, Rick Tyler tackled the criminal spouses. “Have no fear, Miracleman is here!”
Rick quickly subdued the villains while Roy and Beth tied them up. “Miracleman?” said Roy. “I think maybe Grundy hit you on the head too hard, pal. You’re asking for a lawsuit.”
Rick just smiled. “OK, how about Miracloman? Or Mister Miracle?”
Roy’s face just crinkled up in distaste. “Keep working on that name, pal.”
Midnight came up to Rick, wagging her finger in his face. “Damn it, Rick, you promised. No more Miraclo. You should never have come out here and put yourself in a position where you would feel forced to use it.”
Rick shook his head. “You don’t understand. I didn’t take any Miraclo. It was the same thing that happened on my birthday! Just like before, it was like something kicked in when I thought Grundy was going to pulverize me. I think it must be activated by a surge of adrenaline or something.”
Beth stood there for a moment, as if gazing into his soul. “All right, I’ll take your word for it, but we’re going to the med-lab when this over for some tests. Let’s help the others finish off the rest of this Injustice Society.”
“Surge of adrenaline, huh?” said Red Arrow. “Hmm… You could call yourself Surge, Tyler. It’s a bit more modern than those miracle-themed names.”
Rick smiled. “Surge? I like it.”
“Of course,” added Roy, “some people might think it’s short for Sergio, but at least you won’t be mistaken for a beer like Corona always is.”