by Starsky Hutch 76
“H-how can that be?” stammered William Twotrees, shocked by the revelation that the Thunderbolt was his father, not Johnny Thunder as he’d believed. “You’re not even human!”
“Well, neither are you, Will,” the Thunderbolt said. “Or should I call you by the name I used to know you by? Shocko.”
“Shocko?” Will echoed, looking confused.
“That’s right,” the Thunderbolt said. “You are my son, Shocko, whom I feared I would never see again.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Shocko first appeared in Johnny Thunder, Flash Comics #69 (February-March, 1946).]
“If that’s true, then why don’t I have all the powers that you do?” Will asked. “All I can do is turn into an electrical form. You look like you could do just about anything!”
“That’s because you are bound to a human host. It’s a very long story.”
“Well, I think I’d like to hear it!” Will said emphatically.
“Very well,” the Thunderbolt sighed. “In 1967, Master Johnny and I had another one of our famous spats, and he chose to send me away again. Of course, he always come to regret that decision. I always tell him–”
“Just get on with your story!” Johnny snapped.
“Very well,” the Thunderbolt said, rolling his eyes. “As coincidence would have it, this was a year with a seven in it, when my power is greatest, and Master Johnny needs the Belt of the Zodiac given to him by the Badhnisian mystics to summon me. Unfortunately, he had managed to lose it yet again.”
“It had gotten mixed in with the dry cleaning, and the cleaners lost it!” Johnny yelped. “It could happen to anyone!”
“So there I was,” the Thunderbolt continued, “wandering on my own, alone and very lonely. I took on a human form to fit in with humans. Naturally, I chose the only one I know well — Master Johnny’s.”
“Mine?!” Johnny exclaimed.
“Yours,” the Thunderbolt said, turning to Johnny. “I’ve had to look at that goofy mug long enough to be able to copy it pretty well.”
The Thunderbolt turned back to Will. “Still, I longed for a familiar face. That was when you showed up again.”
“Me?” Will said. “I hadn’t been born yet!”
“Oh, but you had — for decades, in fact. Not in human form, but you were around in the same form as anyone from our realm. And since laws apply differently to us, you were still in the form of a child! You had been off on your own for quite some time, but for some reason you chose that moment to seek me out. We decided to travel together, seeking whatever adventures we could find. Those were very fun times.”
“I don’t remember any of that,” Will said.
“Of course you don’t. And I’m getting to why you don’t,” the Thunderbolt said sadly. “As fun as our travels were, they eventually had to come to an end. That day came when we arrived at an Indian reservation.”
“My family’s old home,” William Twotrees said.
“Yes. We stumbled upon crooked land developers attempting to take the land away from your tribe. The local shaman called upon the spirits to help him save their land. So naturally, you and I went to lend a hand. Unfortunately, the shaman’s young grandchild was injured in the fighting and lay dying. The shaman and his daughter pleaded with us to help the child, but the forces of life and death were beyond even our power.
“Finally, you — or Shocko — chose to make the ultimate sacrifice and bonded yourself to the child. You, in effect, became William Twotrees. I stayed with Sarah Twotrees and lived with her and the rest of the tribe in the human form I’d chosen until the day finally came that Master Johnny summoned me again.”
“My grandfather always told me that my father was taken away by the thunderstorm,” said Will. “I simply assumed those were the ramblings of a superstitious old man.”
“To him, it certainly must have looked that way,” the Thunderbolt said.
“Gee, I wish you had told me about all this,” Johnny said. “We would’a visited.”
“It wasn’t in my power when you summoned me with the belt. Only to do your bidding. Maybe if you’d asked me what I’d been up to…”
“Aw, come on, T-bolt. We were in the midst of a ruckus at the time. We didn’t have time to chit-chat.”
“Excuses, excuses,” the Thunderbolt said.
“This is a lot to take in,” Will Power said in shock.
“You can take it in later!” Whatsituyah snapped. “In case you people have forgotten, we’re still trapped! You’re supposed to be heroes, so get us out of here!” Everyone turned and looked sternly at the old man. “What?!”
“You’ve got some nerve, considering all this is really your fault,” Kiku said.
“So are you saying getting everyone out is not the most important thing right now?” Whatsituyah said, shrugging.
“He’s got a point,” Will grimaced as he looked around at the zombie-like Badhnisian natives. “Anything else can wait.”
“But how the heck do we get out of here?” Johnny said.
“Well, it’s not that hard to figure out,” Whatsituyah said.
“OK, smart guy,” Johnny snapped. “How do we do it? Got any ideas?”
“As a matter of fact, I do!” Whatsituyah said. “I’ve thought of little else since I arrived in this infernal place!”
“And…?” everyone asked simultaneously.
“Since we were pushed through to the other side of the mirror by Abraxis, we need a mirror in order to get back again.”
Everyone nodded knowingly except Johnny. “The other side of the mirror?”
“In your case, it was the huge mirror in the throne room,” Whatsituyah said. “Every person in Badhnisia has been pushed through the nearest reflective surface by the demon Abraxis. If we’re to counter the spell, we’re going to need a mirror. I’m an old man, so it’s not like I had the time or the energy to search everyone in here for one. But you whippersnappers might be able to. So maybe instead of pointing fingers at me, you should get to it.”
“Between you and me, we should be able to search pretty quickly,” Will said to the Thunderbolt.
“That’s right, son,” the Thunderbolt said, clapping Will on the shoulder. “As soon as Master Johnny gives the word.”
“Don’t leave me out of this,” Kiku said. She turned the letters on her H-Dial and was transformed into a blue-and-white-clad black girl with a lightning insignia on her chest.
“Wow! You sure look different, Kiku,” Will said, amazed at her transformation.
“Kiku isn’t here anymore. I am XS!” she said, taking off at super-speed.
The Thunderbolt looked at Johnny, and Johnny said, “Don’t just stand there, get to it!”
Will and the Thunderbolt took off, looking like pink and blue streaks of light. XS was a dark blue blur as she raced through the crowd. All three looked for anyone who might, by some fluke, have a mirror.
“Over here!” XS suddenly yelled. Will and the Thunderbolt streaked in the direction of her voice and arrived to see her heading toward a woman in a nightgown, walking aimlessly with a blank look on her face. In her hand was a small hand mirror. XS quickly grabbed it from her, saying, “I just need to borrow this for a little while, ma’am.” Of course, she got no reaction from the woman at all.
“Hmph,” Whatsituyah said. “I was hoping for something larger.”
“Do you really think you can counteract a spell from someone as powerful as Abraxis?” Kiku asked, now in her original form once more.
“If I could, I would’ve already done it,” Whatsituyah scoffed. This drew worried looks from everyone. “That’s where you come in,” he quickly added. “I need you to add your power to my spell. Aim it at the mirror. With all of us working together, we should be able to break through and free us all from this place.”
Whatsituyah laid the hand mirror on the ground. Everyone gathered around in a circle. Kiku quickly dialed on her H-Dial and was transformed into a white-haired woman in a black bodysuit.
“Who are you now?” Will asked.
“I am Ms. Mystic,” she said with a regal air.
“A useful transformation,” Whatsituyah commented.
“They all seem to be,” Will said.
“Yeah, it would have been too bad if she had changed into somebody who stretches or turns to stone,” Johnny said.
“Thank goodness he didn’t say ‘say you,'” Whatsituyah muttered.
As the dark-robed old mystic prepared to begin his incantation, Johnny said, “Say, how do we know you won’t pull some sort of a double cross?”
“I’m an old man,” Whatsituyah said. “Do you really think I want to spend my golden years in here?”
“I guess not,” Johnny Thunder said. “But I’m keeping my eye on you.”
“Do what you feel you must,” the old mystic said. “That’s what I’m doing. Frankly, I never thought the day would come when I’d be helping Johnny Thunder.”
“Go figure,” Johnny said.
Whatsituyah began reciting words in an ancient language. The mirror started to glow, and the air around them began to stir, becoming a swirling wind.
“More power!” the old mystic said. “I need more power if this is to work. Add your power to the spell. Aim it at the mirror.”
Will Power, Ms. Mystic, and the Thunderbolt all aimed their hands at the hand mirror and fired great bolts of energy. The thick fog suddenly seemed to be drawn into the hand mirror, and the swirling winds all seemed to be drawn toward it.
“This is like being at the eye of a tornado!” Johnny Thunder exclaimed.
“This is going to be a tight squeeze!” the Thunderbolt said as the winds grew even stronger.
All at once, they found themselves lifted off their feet by the currents and flung toward the mirror. It suddenly seemed to grow much larger as they passed through its surface.
Johnny Thunder, his Thunderbolt, Ms. Mystic, Will Power, and the old mystic Whatsituyah found themselves hurled back into the throne room as they flew through the large mirror hanging on the wall. The throne room itself seemed as if it were caught in the midst of a massive storm as the foggy interior of the mirror realm spilled forth.
Mala the Younger leaped to his feet and let out a bellow of rage, his red eyes glowing fiercely. He was quickly swept up by the storm and slammed against the wall with a crash of stone and masonry. As he attempted to rise to his feet, both the Thunderbolt and Will Power fired blasts at him, knocking him back down.
Daisy Thunder clung to the armrest of her throne for dear life as the winds threatened to sweep her out of the golden chair. Johnny leaped for her, taking her in his arms. “It’s OK,” he said. “I’ve got you.”
“I wanted to go to Hawaii for my honeymoon!” she cried.
Mala stood to his feet and screamed even louder than before. He raised his arms, and the winds around him swirled even stronger, sweeping up any debris around him that he sent flying toward his attackers. Will Power and the Thunderbolt sent up bolts of energy to collide with the debris, creating showers of rock and splinters.
The winds grew even stronger, and Mala issued forth streams of arcane force from his hands. The Thunderbolt and Will Power were struck by these blasts and sent careening into the far wall.
“You’ve got to separate them!” Whatsituyah called out. “Abraxis can’t exist in this realm without a host!”
The Thunderbolt, Will Power, and Ms. Mystic all focused their power on Mala, and a horrible, unearthly scream of pain issued from his throat as he suddenly seemed to split in two, a fissure of dark light appearing in his center. With a burst of light, Mala and Abraxis were split asunder. Mala fell to the ground, and they were faced with the demon Abraxis.
“Fools!” Abraxis boomed. “Now you shall face my full might!”
“I thought you said he couldn’t exist here!” Johnny Thunder yelled.
“Too much of the substance of the mirror realm must have spilled over in our crossing,” Whatsituyah said. “We’ve got to send it back.”
“Well, do it!” Johnny said.
“I will,” Whatsituyah said. “But I’m tapped. “I’m going to need Ms. Mystic’s help. The rest of you keep Abraxis busy!”
“Keep after him, T-bolt!” Johnny ordered.
“Y-yes, Master Johnny,” the Thunderbolt groaned.
The Thunderbolt and Will Power continued to fly at Abraxis, each time being swatted aside. “Fools!” he bellowed. “Do you really think you can stand up to my power? The pitiful mystics of this land chose me because they knew you would be overwhelmed! What they failed to realize is that Abraxis is no one’s pawn.”
“Pitiful, eh?” Whatsituyah muttered. “We’ll just see about that.” He placed the hand mirror Kiku had found while in the form of XS between him and Ms. Mystic. The two of them sat down on either side of it and held hands.
“You had better hurry,” Ms. Mystic said. “Soon, I shall revert back to Kiku.”
“Then we had best not waste time chatting, eh?” the curmudgeonly old mystic said. He began chanting, followed by Ms. Mystic.
Abraxis, seeing what they were doing, began to move in their direction. The Thunderbolt quickly used his distraction as the opportunity to level a blast that knocked the demon off his feet.
As Whatsituyah and Ms. Mystic chanted, the hand mirror began to glow. The fog that had entered with their escape from the mirror realm began to be drawn into the center of its glassy surface.
“No!” Abraxis screamed. “Nooo-ooo-ooo!” He let out a cry of rage and impotent frustration as his form stretched, being pulled into the center of the small surface of the mirror, funnelled along with the remaining foggy atmosphere of the mirror realm.
“Someday…” Abraxis cried out, “…someday I will make you pay for this indignity! Your world will be mine! I promise you…!” His words echoed and then faded away as his hand sank beneath the reflective surface of the hand mirror.
“Whew,” Johnny whistled, leading Daisy from the throne against which they had been huddled during the stormy battle. “I’m sure glad to have seen the last of him!”
“If we have,” Whatsituyah said grimly. “I made the mistake of underestimating him once. I won’t do so again.” Suddenly, the old man’s eyes rolled back into his head, and he began to fall.
Kiku let out a gasp as she suddenly flashed back in place of Ms. Mystic and saw him falling into her waiting arms.