by Starsky Hutch 76 and Doc Quantum
Stellar Studios, Los Angeles:
“Are you sure you didn’t just get your head in a little too close to that belt of yours while you were working on it?” Roy Harper asked as they stepped behind the console of the studio’s security center. “Radiation can do funny things to a guy.”
“I know what I saw,” said Sylvester Pemberton. “It was him — Wing!”
“He’s dead,” Roy said. “We’d all like for him to be back, especially after the way he sacrificed himself for everyone when he had never even been made an official member of the group. (*) But he’s gone, and we have to face it.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “And One of Us Must Die,” Justice League of America #102 (October, 1972).]
“You, of all people, should be more open-minded after all we’ve been through in our time,” Syl chided. He hit the button to rewind the tape from the camera monitoring the workshop area, and an overhead shot of the large room came into view on the monitor.
On the screen, Syl, still in his Patriot costume minus the mask, looked up from working on his cosmic converter belt while Roy continued to practice archery with his back turned to him. Suddenly, a ghostly image came into view of a costumed figure. His costume was ragged, and he only appeared to be a few years older than the last time Syl and Roy had seen him, even though several years had passed.
“Wing!” Roy exclaimed.
“What did I tell you?!” Syl said.
The clang of steel against steel was heard in the large hall, interrupted by the occasional grunt and labored breathing as two opponents continued to thrust their swords for what would have been killing blows, had not their armor been protecting them.
Whatever this may have looked like from an outsider’s perspective, this was definitely not a game. As any and all who were trained in a discipline know, whatever that discipline may be, it is necessary to practice regularly in order to not only improve with time, but to keep the improvements you’ve previously accomplished.
As with all disciplines, battle by sword needs to be practiced. Thus these two figures, likely sweating under their armor and masks — which appeared nevertheless much lighter in weight than they should have — kept going at it for well over an hour without a break. This was a daily routine at this household.
The smaller figure, watching the other for signs of weakness, saw a rare moment of opportunity and took it, swinging the sword to a point of indefensibility.
“Dost thee now surrender, varlet?” the smaller figure shouted, the sound echoing throughout the hall.
“I do now surrender,” said the deeper voice of the other figure, the sound of someone who was well pleased by another’s work. “I do object to your calling thine own father a ‘varlet,’ however.”
“I was caught up in the spirit of the moment,” was the response, as the smaller figure removed her helmet to reveal a smiling, youthful, red-haired maiden, as her father would call her. He had been born to another age, after all, and she would refer to herself in that way, having also been born in that bygone age that did not exist in history but existed nonetheless, even if only in legend.
“You are your father’s daughter,” said a third figure, stepping into the hall from an adjacent door. She was the girl’s mother, although she hardly looked old enough to have reared a girl of two-and-twenty years. One look at her husband, the girl’s father, revealed that the entire family was one that was very youthful in both appearance and energy.
Sir Justin, called Justin Arthur, was no youth, however. He was well over a thousand years old, although he had spent most of that time frozen in a glacier until it had thawed in the early 1940s. He had been called the Shining Knight, and although since then he had lived for several more decades chronologically, although in different time periods, he had more or less aged extremely slowly, so that he looked not all that much older than the day he thawed out in 1941. (*) He looked to be a man of about thirty, no more, no less.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Shining Knight,” Adventure Comics #66 (September, 1941).]
His wife, Danette Reilly Arthur, heir to the Reilly fortune, looked the same age as her husband, even though she had been born over sixty years earlier. She, too, aged extremely slowly and had also lived in various other time periods since the Year of Our Lord 1946.
The young lady, bearing a close resemblance to both of her parents — particularly her mother due to her fiery red hair — was their pride and joy, and the consummation of their love. She was as capable a knight as her father had ever been, and as capable a heroine as her mother was. Her full name was Justine Brandywyne Arthur, called Brandy by all, and she was the daughter of two worlds, two legacies.
Her father, Sir Justin, had become the Shining Knight many centuries ago and was still youthful, as was his steed Winged Victory, a horse with wings. Perhaps it had been the enchantment of Merlin that had kept the horse so young after all these years. Perhaps the same enchantment that had turned his dull coat of armor into the shining, indestructible one he now wore had done the same for him.
Brandy’s mother, for whom she had also been named, was Danette Reilly, the socialite daughter of steel tycoon “Emerald Ed” Reilly, a self-made millionaire who was tragically killed in 1942. (*) Danette herself gained powers over flame granted to her by a chance mystical bolt fired at her by the magic-based villain Wotan some months earlier. (*) She thereafter took the name Firebrand, after learning of her then-incapacitated brother Rod’s own mystery-man career, and was known as Brandy by her friends in the All-Star Squadron, where she and Sir Justin had met. She, too, had remained young for all the decades since she first became Firebrand, likely due to the mystical energy that had granted her those powers.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Night and Fog,” All-Star Squadron #44 (April, 1985), “The Dooms of Dark December,” All-Star Squadron #3 (November, 1981), “Day of the Dragon King,” All-Star Squadron #4 (December, 1981), and “Never Step on a Feathered Serpent,” All-Star Squadron #5 (January, 1982).]
The young Brandy had inherited both of her parents’ legacies. From her father she received the training of a knight, something extremely rare for women in the days of Camelot, as well as her own suit of armor mystically enchanted by Merlin at her birth. She received her mother’s flame powers as well, allowing her to fly through the sky in waves of flame, and have complete mastery over the flame she controlled. She called herself Knightfire.
In the year 1946, Danette Reilly, alias the second Firebrand, was killed in an explosion eerily similar to that which claimed the life of her former lover, Terrence Curtis, alias Cyclotron, who had left Danette and Al Pratt in charge of his then-infant daughter, Terri Kurtzberger, the mother of the Infinity Inc. member Nuklon. (*) It was a moment the Shining Knight would carry with him for many painful years, and throughout those years he would live with the memory of the helplessness he felt, for he could do nothing to save her life. He had always considered it ironic that they had put off discussing marriage until after the war ended. They had figured that there would be time enough for that in peacetime. But who could have foreseen that they would survive World War II intact, only to be killed by an enemy after the threat of war was over?
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Ultra War,” All-Star Squadron Annual #2 (1983).]
In 1948, when the Seven Soldiers of Victory were lost in time, the Shining Knight lived for a time in the days of Genghis Khan, his memory almost completely gone. He had served under the great Mongol conqueror for a few short weeks before the Sandman, along with the Earth-One Superman and Metamorpho, rescued him from this time period and restored his memory in doing so. (*) Unfortunately for him, the memory of the loss of Danette came flooding back, and he could do little about it.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Hand That Shook the World,” Justice League of America #101 (September, 1972).]
And then a miracle happened.
For the first time the legendary Merlin brought Sir Justin back home to Camelot in the sixth century of legend through the use of a unique arcane magick. And he then made it possible for the Shining Knight to travel from the age of King Arthur to the twentieth century and back. Sir Justin lived for a time from 1948 to 1951, when he mentored a young man dubbed Sir Butch of Beeler’s Alley. (*) Next, he spent some time in the Old West of the late nineteenth century, running into Mark Twain along the way. He also went into the future — and discovered something that would change his life forever.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Sir Butch of Beeler’s Alley,” Adventure Comics #132 (September, 1948) and “The Secret Kingdom,” Adventure Comics #166 (July, 1951).]
He met one of his own descendants, a girl with red hair who bore such a close resemblance to Danette that he was soon convinced that somehow, in some way, she must have survived to become the mother of his children and thus also this descendant. And although she had died many decades earlier, her survival was still in his future. Such was the paradoxical nature of time travel.
In an adventure almost too impossible to believe, the Shining Knight traveled back in time to the moment when Danette died in that explosion in 1946 and rescued his fair damsel in distress.
The star-crossed lovers could not return to the present. She would still be believed to be dead by almost everyone until 1985, after the so-called Crisis on Infinite Earths, when their friends in the All-Star Squadron would be told of her amazing survival. Thus, the young couple swept themselves back in time to the days of Camelot.
On the steps outside of the royal palace in Camelot, the two were wed by none other than King Arthur himself. And they lived happily ever after…
Their daughter Brandy was born within a year of their wedding, and she was raised in the England of the legendary sixth century. She was a strong-willed child, however, who had the heart of a warrior, and she refused to become the typical damsel of that era. She chose to become a knight, instead, one of an extremely rare breed of female knights, and she was personally tutored by Sir Gawaine as well as her own parents.
The end of Camelot was coming, though, and Sir Justin knew that history could not be changed. He had read the chronicles of King Arthur’s day, as scripted by Sir Thomas Malory, and he could see the tide changing for the worse. It would soon be too dangerous for his family to stay any longer. Brandy was of age and was given a choice whether to stay as a knight in a doomed kingdom or to join her parents in the twentieth century. With a great deal of regret, the three left the sixth century for seemingly the last time and rejoined the modern world.
They were reunited with several of the surviving members of the All-Star Squadron, who were pleased to learn that Danette was alive and well, and even more pleased to see that she and Justin had married and had a child. Their legacy would continue.
It had been little more than a year since they’d returned, but already Brandy was becoming accustomed to modern ways. She enrolled in a private school in England where the family lived for most of the year, while also residing on the Reilly estate on Long Island, and she had made several friends while continuing to practice her skills and abilities with her parents.
Knightfire, as Brandy called herself, was one of the most unique individuals on the planet, having been raised in an extinct culture while possessing powers few others could even dream about.
Stellar Studios, Los Angeles:
“I can’t get ahold of Lyta, either,” the former Star-Spangled Kid said with aggravation as he sat the phone down. He was fully clad in his Patriot uniform and held his mask in his other hand, as if anxious to get into action. “Not that she’d do much good in the field right now, anyway. She’s pretty far along.” (*)
“Hector is such an idiot,” Roy Harper said. “Is he just going to let his own kid go without a father? I can’t believe Carter and Shiera are his parents.”
“The good genes don’t always get passed down,” Syl Pemberton said grimly.
“Ain’t that the truth. What about Rick or Beth?” Roy asked.
“They’re at his dad’s place in the Pocanos, still on their honeymoon. No phone or wire to reach them, and his signal device is switched off. Obviously, they don’t want to be reached. Anyway, Beth’s pretty far along, too.”
“Somewhere between here and Atlantis. Even if I could reach him at that depth, all I could do is say swim faster!”
“In family counseling with her folks. I kinda hate to bother her,” Syl said thoughtfully.
“Yolanda or Norda?”
“Both on reserve status. Hardly ever in the state anymore. Now’s no different.”
“Jade and Obsidian?” Roy asked, exasperated.
“Off with the JSA Reserves. And Brainwave’s off on a family matter,” Syl said, groaning.
“I don’t believe this!” Roy snapped. “What’s the point of having a team if you can’t pull them together in a time of crisis?”
“You’re telling me? Believe me, it’ll definitely be a topic at the next meeting. Wait!” Syl said, snapping his fingers. “What about Nuklon or Ray?”
Roy sighed. This one he knew about. “Ray’s been pretty much obsessed with finding Arsenal since she embarrassed him. (*) Nuklon went with him as backup.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Arsenal Strikes, Chapter 5: Zero for Infinity Inc.]
“That stupid kid!” Syl growled. “I told him to wait until we could all come with him. She’s obviously got some pretty heavy backing.”
“Well, I don’t think he has any leads, anyway. But as soon as we get back from whatever this turns out to be, I think we should find him.”
“Agreed,” Syl said.
“So what does this leave us with, boss-man?” Roy asked.
“Our second option. When you think about it, it should’ve been our first. We need to get the Seven Soldiers of Victory back together again.”