Ronnie Raymond was late for his after-school job, and he knew he’d pay for it with a lecture from his tough-talking manager. Instead, he decided to take a shortcut across town.
He concentrated and became the merged being called Firestorm. Smiling, he took to the air and flew over the city.
“Ronald!” said the voice in his head. “I hope this was necessary. I was on my way to a special engagement.” The tone of Professor Martin Stein — the other half of the composite being — was affectionate, if scolding.
“Sorry, Prof,” said Ronnie, whose consciousness controlled Firestorm’s body. “I’ll make it fast. I just needed to get across town faster than even a jock’s legs could carry.” He smiled as they passed through a fence and emerged on the other side. The Burger Barn was just ahead. “But about this special engagement, would it be with a babe, by any chance?” he said teasingly.
“N-now, Ronald, she is a colleague,” stammered Stein. “Attractive, yes — but this is not a date!”
Ronnie grinned. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t…” He stopped in mid-sentence. “Looks like a fire over there. The factory’s burning!”
He soared forward through the air over fire trucks, spotting several brave firefighters battling the blaze at the Esteban Chemical Plant.
“Ronald, if the volatile chemicals stored there should become overheated…” began Stein.
Firestorm nodded. “I know, I know — boom!” He waved a hand, forming an elongated scoop in midair, connecting the nearby water tower to the burning plant. “Now to dissolve the wall of the tower, and instant shower for that fire.”
“Be careful,” warned Stein. “Some chemicals might react badly to a sudden infusion of water.”
Indeed, just then a cloud of energy exploded over the plant, and Firestorm was battered back by the force. “Stupid of me,” he muttered.
Then the explosive energy stopped and began to shrink until it resembled a humanoid form.
“Amazing!” said Stein. “After the initial concussive force, the blast has been muffled… absorbed, even!”
“Someone is in there — unhurt,” said Firestorm as he drew nearer to the now-smothered fire blast.
“Unhurt, but in need of your help,” said a smiling, handsome platinum-haired man whose skin gleamed silver in the light.
“Sure, I’ll help,” Firestorm said. “Who are you? If you can tame a blast like that, you can’t need much help from anyone.”
“My name is Captain Atom,” said the heroic figure earnestly, “and a threat that escaped from my world to yours may just be too much for both of us.”
“Firestorm is a hero from Earth-One’s Justice League,” Wonder Woman told Shiera Hall as the three watched the events from 1982 on the Magic Sphere. “You may recall him from the Crisis.”
Shiera nodded. “I do, but it was easy to miss even a guy who has flaming hair amongst that mob of heroes and villains.”
Carter Hall nodded. “This proves the mace originated from a case involving both of our teams. The scene in the satellite must have occurred after the events we’re seeing. Still, I neither recall the events nor meeting Captain Atom, Nightshade, or any of the other members of the Sentinels of Justice before the Crisis.”
Shiera crossed her legs and looked puzzled. “So they come from yet another Earth? Earth what?”
Wonder Woman said, “I think the correct designation is Earth-Four by our method of naming the alternate Earths.” She turned back to the viewscreen of the Sphere, and her eyebrows rose in surprise. “Look, more is happening back on Earth-Two — on Paradise Island, no less.”
The Magic Sphere showed the lovely Paradise Island, home of the Amazons. Several were gathered in an uneasy conclave.
Queen Hippolyta, chief scientist Paula, and the demure warden of Transformation Isle — Mala — discussed ominous portents.
“The dreams Cassandra spoke of,” said the Queen, “concerned a dimensional doorway opening up betwixt this realm and that of Olympus — precisely from the Areopagus, the Hill of Mars itself.”
“And yet we are not directly threatened,” replied Paula. “The portal she saw in the night vision was in Greece. Still, anything that could come from the foul realm of dread Mars could spell disaster.”
“If an innocent is threatened,” urged the blonde Mala, “it matters not if she be an Amazon or not — we are honor-bound to help.”
“True,” said Hippolyta. “Thus have I summoned the Princess Diana to investigate what transpires in yon hill.”
“Athena guides you as always, my Queen,” said Mala.
Hippolyta nodded. “More to the point, my child — may she be with my daughter.”
On the viewing screen of the Magic Sphere, a slightly younger Wonder Woman reached her destination in her invisible plane.
“Trust sweet Mala to think about helping others,” said Wonder Woman as she approached the Areopagus, the Hill of Mars in Greece.
She climbed the steps to the shrine she knew all too well from past encounters with the war god and his minions. She sighed. “Will a world full of hope and new possibilities ever learn enough from the past to renounce the ways of Mars?”
“Doubtful,” said a stentorian voice from within. “But at least some of the Olympians are willing to give mankind a champion to wage ceaseless war against Mars and his ilk.”
Wonder Woman spun her golden lasso and caught an armored man dressed like a Roman centurion who walked confidently forward.
“An Amazon?” he said. “I’ve encountered your kind before on my world. They were not too friendly. Still, those patriotic colors you wear — barely — mark you as one loyal to American ideals.”
“Who are you to emerge from a shrine to Mars and preach to me of idealism?” demanded Diana.
“I am Johnny Mann, but I am called the Son of Vulcan in both name and birthright of my powers,” he said.
“You come from another world and claim to serve the craftsman of Olympus yet you enter our world via the bloody roads of Mars. Do you doubt my reasons for being suspicious?” asked Wonder Woman as he freed himself.
“One who can channel the power of Veritas needs fear little from your girdle-spun rope,” he replied with a smile.
“Veritas, the Roman goddess of truth! I see you appear to be sincere. How did you get here, and why choose such a perilous path?” she asked as they walked down the slope.
The Son of Vulcan said, “I sought to stop others from my Earth who have ill intent and serve a cause not unaligned with the war god. They used a pathway of Mars to get here — I followed.”
“I am Diana, known as Wonder Woman,” she said. “How may I help you stop these invaders?”
The Son of Vulcan said, “Take me to your allies. I sense you have some. We will need their strength.”
Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814, was pleased that his efforts at flood relief in had proven successful. Although the Guardians of the Universe had ordered him to leave Earth in order to provide protection to other worlds in his space sector, he had been allowed to visit Earth briefly for a wedding. Before returning to space, he decided to help out with flood relief in India. He smiled as the Red Cross volunteers closed up their camp.
“Green Lantern, you made our work so much easier — how can we thank you?” asked a pretty nurse.
He smiled. “You don’t need to thank me. I should thank you, as should everyone in need, for all the good work your organization does worldwide.”
He flew off but soon became alarmed as a plane rocketed directly across his flight path. That little beauty almost took my head off, mused Jordan, who was a skilled pilot. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and that’s saying something considering my background.
He caught up with the sleek craft and waved to the pilot, who wore a strangely shaped helmet that looked like an upside-down U. “Hey, pal, that reckless flying of yours could get somebody hurt. What’s the rush, and where’d you get this plane?” he asked.
The pilot shook his head. “I’m called Peacemaker. The plane is one I designed. It — and I — are not of this Earth. I brought the U-X jet fighter here on a mission of mercy. I need the help of folks like you to keep a semblance of peace on more than one Earth.”
Green Lantern said, “Tell me more.”