by Tynnechris and Dan Swanson
Somewhere above the Indian Ocean, late December, 1985:
It was daytime around noon some four months after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. This remote place was far from the coast, so any waves present were small, and no boats could be seen. That was both good and bad; if there were boats nearby, the crew would be shocked and frightened by the upcoming event. But then, those who would soon appear would not mind any help they could get. And they would be here at any moment now.
A streaking emerald comet raced toward the waters. It made contact. The splash was incredible.
“–guh… Burroughs! —sputter— Oh, you moron!” A girl emerged from the now-churning water, wearing a rather outré indigo outfit. This was Gina Lance, alias Canary.
“Listen, I am not taking the blame for this,” was the reply from a visored figure in a dark green and black body-suit — Drake Burroughs, alias Greenfire. “According to your grand-uncle’s coordinates, this should’ve been Gotham, or at least the old United States!”
“It would’ve been if you’d not jumped the gun, as usual. Where’s Horus?”
“Can’t the blasted bird swim?!”
“I’ll get him, don’t worry,” said another young woman, this one wearing a bodysuit that seemed to shimmer like a night sky full of stars. She was Theresa Knight, alias Star Lass. Soon, she emerged from the water encased in a shimmering field, a tawny-brown-feathered figure that was drenched and unconscious in tow. This was the final member of Squad A, the Feitheran Justice Legionnaire named Horus, alias Hawk Lad.
The indigo-suited Canary grimaced. “I certainly hope Kid Terrific’s group isn’t in the same mess. We were supposed to warn the forebears. And now we have to figure out where we flamin’ are. Ohhh…” Canary treaded water over to Greenfire, who remained silent after his gruff remarks. She got the feeling then and there that saving the world wasn’t going to be much fun this time.
Kansas, late December, 1985:
The Smallville Gazette wasn’t exactly big on the type of earth-shattering stories one usually saw in the big city newspapers, at least not in Jemi Olsen’s opinion, not that she was complaining — not exactly, at least. It was just that, for a girl who grew up hearing the stories her grand-uncle could tell, covering a tech-show in nearby Midvale — the humdrum town where she lived — paled in comparison. Here she stood, waiting in the lobby while her brother tried to find the men’s room. She sighed. The convention could have at least brought in the interesting companies, like TylerCo or Knight-Tech. Instead, there were a slew of P.C.s that looked to be virtual clones of each other. Exciting… really.
“Not too likely to be the most exciting point of my career,” she grumbled to herself. “And the punch tastes like they forgot to add the sugar.”
“Ms?” a floor person said who looked her way.
“Nothing,” said Jemi, smiling. “Just speaking a thought out loud.”
“Oh,” he said, smiling. “Well, you may be right about the punch. We were in quite a hurry to set up, and–”
The man was cut off by an odd crackling noise. Jemi realized that her hair was standing up on her head, like in science class when the teacher had her touch a generator. All of the computer screens went to flashing. What the heck?
Suddenly, the strange charge in the air seemed to collect into the center of the show floor. The lights all dimmed, and a ball of electrical energy seemed to form into distinct shapes.
“Oh, God, I hope this isn’t a super-villain attack! We don’t get those in Kansas!” screamed some passerby right Jemi’s ear. She tried to tell herself it was just the tension of the strange thing happening that made her want to deck him.
A hush fell on the room as the shapes became people. Jemi saw a girl who looked to be her age wearing a garish, skintight outfit, which was made all the more weird by a yellow triangle on the outfit’s torso that read Fair Play in stylized script. Although she didn’t know it, this was Cathy Beamish, alias Kid Terrific. The others looked even more strange — a boy who shone from head to toe like he was made of shiny gold, and a panther standing on two legs. They were Golden Boy and WildCat, the alien members of the Legion of Justice. Together, they were the Legion of Justice Squad B.
“Ohhh, crud. Did weee overrr-shoot?” said WildCat, forming his muzzle into a rather worried expression.
As one could guess, most people in the room lost their composure very quickly.
“Call the police! Hell, call somebody!”
People started running everywhere as the show’s security tried calm them down, call the authorities, and get a bearing on the bizarre intruders, all at the same time.
“Well, I don’t think this is the residence of the Monitor, do you?” Kid Terrific said to WildCat.
That didn’t sound like your typical master-criminal thing to say, thought Jemi. She snuck as close as she could, though the fact that everyone else was running away from the three was making that difficult. Maybe they were a new hero team, or maybe this was all a prelude to vaporizing the room. Resolutely, Jemi made her way over, the phrase, This is either my first big scoop or the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, repeating over and over in her head.
Cathy lifted up a bronze-colored cube. One of the security people who managed to get past the panicking crowd lifted up his gun.
“Freeze now! Do not attempt to fire that device!” He was sweating, flushed, and his voice was cracking like a thirteen-year-old boy’s. Kid Terrific lifted an eyebrow, making Jemi think incongruously of Mr. Spock.
“I assure you, Officer, I mean to harm no one. I am truly sorry to have disturbed you.” Cathy was sincere, more worried about the officer’s feelings than the fact he was brandishing a gun at her. “This is not a weapon,” she said, eying the cube. “Gernsback, initiate.” The cube came to life with a glow, and the crackling effect was back in the air. WildCat and Golden Boy moved closer to Kid Terrific.
“Oh, God, they’re gonna kill us all!” shrieked the security man, turning and bolting at top-speed. Jemi paid him no mind, now utterly fascinated by the glow enveloping the three strangers. She was very close to them now, even feeling tendrils of the odd energy touching her.
“Who are yo–?” she started, but her voice was cut off as if she was on a radio that was suddenly unplugged. The glow vanished, along with the three Justice Legionnaires — and Jemi.
The room was empty and silent now, except for the hum of computers. A door opened, and into the main hall came young Jimmy Olsen, her twin brother.
“Jemi?” he called. “I couldn’t wait for the police, and the show people didn’t know where you were. Oh my gosh, Jemi?!” But no one was there to answer.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Hemisphere, the sky above the ocean was streaked with two trails — one a blazing emerald, the other a shining haze. Within these two trails, Canary and her rather lost squad attempted to get there bearings. It was only partly good news so far.
“According to the cube Cathy gave us, we are in the right year, down to the month,” Theresa had stated earlier, her eyes gleaming like the starfield pattern she wore.
“And the bad news?” Canary asked.
“We’re… on the wrong side of the world. And, uh… the cube got drained by, uh…”
“It was Burroughs’ stunt, wasn’t it?!” said Canary. Greenfire huffed at that but said nothing. Good, let him stew. He might learn to control himself. Canary was distracted from her negative thoughts by Horus. Poor guy. He still hasn’t recovered from the near-drowning. Was in and out of consciousness. When he is awake, he babbles… like now.
“Shiera… oh, beloved… I can feel you near. Hector… my son…. I’ve missed you both so…” His speech grew slurred, and Hawk Lad was out again.
For what seemed like the millionth time, Canary wished Cathy was on this squad. Among other things, she knew Feitheran physiology and might’ve been able to snap their Hawk Lad out of whatever it was that he was going through. Theresa laid a hand gently on Canary’s shoulder.
“I have good news,” said Star Lass.
“I could use some. Are we near Gotham?”
“No, but we are near another of our destinations!”
The interior of an airplane approaching Badhnisia:
“Noodles! All over the statue. Never saw such a mess! Well, not since I accidentally made T-bolt conjure up tapioca pudding by the metric ton, and that was a joke — which just goes to show that in this crazy world, anything can happen. I mean, my life has been living proof of that since the day I said that phrase. Er, am I boring you?”
Johnny Thunder ceased his stream of running commentary to gaze at his neighbor in first class, a television reporter — what was his name? — Delbert Saxonfield, or some such weird name.
Delbert’s head snapped up, and he wiped a bit of drool from his face. “Ah… no, no, Mr. Thunder. I love listening to celebrities recount their experiences. I still don’t see why you travel by plane, though. A man of your, er… talents…”
“Shucks, I was never very talented. It just feels good to travel in an ordinary way for once. It’s actually a novelty in my case. Besides, I haven’t visited Badhnisia for a long time. It seems more like a homecoming this way.”
Johnny looked out the window, admiring the view as the clouds floated close beneath the plane. Mr. Saxonfield settled back in and was soon snoring. Johnny sighed and pulled out his copy of Jonathan Law’s latest thriller. Unlike most authors, good ol’ Jon had actually lived through adventures far beyond those on the printed page, and he had made quite a good writing career out of it. He ought to drop by Jonathan’s place sometime this year, he thought to himself.
“LD-7 reporting. Target Johnny Thunder is soon to reach the Badhnisian International Airport. I am ready.”
Landing out in a vacant field, the Legion of Justice Squad A pulled out their supplies, such as they were. Canary tended to Hawk Lad. Star Lass and a grudgingly penitent Greenfire flew off in search of the local airport. Discussion of Canary’s pep-talk was their conversation topic of choice.
“She didn’t really mean that about selling us to the Mist-Master and his Society of Assassins, did she?” asked Greenfire.
“If we fail to save Thunder? No…”
“Good. I’ve had enough of her threats!”
“…she’s more likely to order Liberty Lad to fold us into an envelope, then mail us to Wotan’s palace on Hades!”
Greenfire was speechless.
Theresa nodded. “You’d better believe it!”
Kansas, December, 1985:
Jimmy Olsen, namesake of his famous grand-uncle, studied the videotape of his sister’s last known appearance. A cameraman had videotaped part of the show for Midvale’s local TV station, only to have it become a major news story about the mystery superhumans, and — the tape didn’t record for very long — the man had run off before Jemi’s fate could be seen. Jimmy sighed and rewound the tape again. If only the sound quality wasn’t so bad. He reached one of the few parts where bits of dialogue could be heard.
“–crud. Did we over–?”
“–I don’t think this is the residence of the Monitor, do you?”
The sole security person to confront the beings claimed that they had lifted a weapon of some sort, but that just didn’t fit. The girl was wearing a uniform that had struck Jimmy as being familiar, somehow, and then he found out why. The red and green bodysuit and the Fair Play insignia indicated that it was a streamlined version of a costume worn by the deceased JSA member known as Mister Terrific. That was hardly something a super-villain would choose, or would they?
Jimmy sighed again. His parents were inconsolable, and the authorities couldn’t help more than they already were. Mrs. Kent had said that Mr. Kent was on a trip of some sort, and that Clark Junior was gone ’til after the weekend. It was just too frustrating.
“Where are you, sis?!”
Knight Base, the twenty-third century:
“Rex, we have a problem,” the Legion of Justice supercomputer Gernsback said. Instead of his normal can’t-tell-it-from-a-human voice, this time the voice sounded totally synthesized. This alarmed Rexford Tyler more than Gernsback’s words. It took extra computing cycles for Gernsback to add human inflection to his words, and if he couldn’t spare those cycles, something was drastically wrong.
“Continue,” commanded the Legionnaire known as Timepiece. There was no need to waste words.
“Squad B has initiated an emergency time-jump. We have not yet finished compensating for the earlier instabilities they encountered, and Greenfire’s overdramatic departure introduced other problems in the feedback system. I have no way to exercise control over Squad B’s current temporal transition.”
“In other words,” Timepiece interrupted him, “we have no idea where they’re headed.”
There was an unusually long pause. Probably trying to think of better words, Rex thought. Then the computer responded, short and to the point.
“Repeat the relevant data to my display,” Rex ordered. “Let’s make sure we locate them as quickly as possible!”
“LD-7 reporting to Mekanique: Thunder will not be here… the Ragnarok incident has occurred.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ragnarok.]
“Excellent! This is a bonus. Return to the base, Lightning-Master.”
Metropolis, December, 1985:
The Ultra-Humanite was ticked off. “I thought you promised me this Legion of Doom would help me destroy the JSA, Mekanique!”
Mekanique seemed amused by the outburst. “But they will help us. The Ragnarok incident’s outcome is uncertain, but either the JSA will be gone forever, or it will be greatly weakened by the battle. We, in the meantime, will destroy all the future JSAers, and any hope of the Legion of Justice to even exist, much less challenge Fredersen’s — and your — future empires.”
“Infinity Inc. and the Junior JSA?”
“And all of the families, allies, and loved ones. Why don’t we start with… Will Power?”
“I’ve never heard of that one.”
“And you never will…”
Smallville, February, 1987:
Alexander Lane, the Monitor of Earth-Two, had access to technology that made Gernsback look primitive, and several googleplexabytes of information about events past, present, and future that took place on this and other parallel Earths before the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He had become aware more than a year ago that Legion of Justice Squad B had tried to reach him in 1985, and he was sympathetic to their cause. He didn’t find the thought of fleeing Earth to be pleasant, and in both of the timelines that the Legion was aware of — the Joh Fredersen/Metropolis timeline and their own General Urbane/Amgov timeline — that would be his fate if something was not done about it.
But Squad B and the Kent family’s friend Jemi Olsen were about to be destroyed by their malfunctioning time-cube on their trip from 1985. Using his hyper-advanced technology, Alex was able to partially avert the disaster after pondering the problem for several months. He couldn’t remotely fix the time-cube, but he could make sure that Squad B and Jemi were safely returned to Earth, though not exactly at their original destination — but a useful time and place, nonetheless, which he had learned from his records was about to occur in his present of 1987. There the Justice Legionnaires could save a life and an entire heroic legacy in the process.
Las Vegas, February, 1987:
Legion of Justice Squad B had encountered problems. Instead of reaching the Monitor’s files, this squad had hit a Midvale tech-show, starting a panic and accidentally taking cub reporter Jemi Olsen with them as they sought to get away. Now the squad materialized in a brightly lit room large enough to hold a half-dozen people comfortably. The floors were white ceramic tile, and the furnishings were unusual, at least to the Legionnaires. But Jemi recognized it immediately.
“A bathroom?! Your secret headquarters is a bathroom? Oh, my God!” She pointed at a bloody body in the bathtub. “You are villains, after all!” She ran for the bathroom door at top speed, screaming at the top of her lungs.
“Sandy, catch her!” Kid Terrific ordered Golden Boy as she moved quickly toward the tub. She could tell from various signs that the man in the tub was still alive. “Chall — this just happened,” she said to WildCat. “Find out who did it. Now!” The anger in her voice was scary, even to her allies. Even with all their powers, they wouldn’t want to face Kid Terrific right now.
Cathy Beamish quickly located and inserted her medical module, and Kid Terrific was suddenly an unmatched authority on the medical knowledge of the Utopian States of America in 2285 — not the shoddy, relatively primitive techniques available to the producer class, or even the taxpayer-subsidized entitled class, but the highly advanced medicine available only to top government officials. This was the good stuff. With the Legion of Justice first-aid kit in her belt and her new medical expertise, if this man could be saved, Kid Terrific would save him.
Golden Boy stretched his golden form much faster than Jemi could run and quickly grabbed her, wrapping one elongated arm around her waist and clamping his other hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming. He dragged her back to the side of the tub. She stopped struggling when she saw Kid Terrific binding the man’s wounds.
“We can’t spare the resources to keep you prisoner, kid. Sandy is going to let you go. You can run away if you like, but I need help.” Kid Terrific turned to Golden Boy. “Let her go and help Cat. I want the butchers who did this!”
Sandy released Jemi, and the brave redhead didn’t even think of running. “How can I help?” Cathy quickly smiled her thanks and set Jemi to gently washing the man’s body, trying to find wounds that might be disguised by caked blood. Fortunately, there was an ample supply of linens in this ultra-luxurious bathroom.
They heard gunshots outside the door, and Golden Boy was out of the room in a flash.
Above the Indian Ocean, 1985:
Star Lass froze Greenfire in the sky with a field.
“What now?!” complained the twenty-third-century bearer of the Starheart.
“Canary contacted me. According to the cube, Ragnarok has started. Thunder will already be gone.”
“We have to find a way to the United States — now!”
Kiku listened to the news report. Johnny Thunder had disappeared, and advanced reports from the JSA Brownstone indicated that he had gone off with the team to save the world — again. The report also mentioned actions being taken by a new team called the Junior JSA. The idea intrigued her.
“If I cannot meet my favorite hero, then I will go meet his young friends!” She started turning the dial.