Power Girl crossed her legs and glared at the policemen who surrounded her at the local precinct where she had taken the fake cops. An uneasy silence filled the room as the maid of steel waited, then finally snapped.
“Chief Wilson, you say none of the creeps I brought in have criminal records. You admit that identifying them was easy enough through conventional means. Still, what I want to know is — who are they working for, and why are they after that poor woman? She freaked out because I wear a costume, and she has super-powers of her own.”
“Let me assure you that they were not policemen!” said Wilson. “They were merely posing as cops!”
Power Girl stood up and held up one gloved hand. “Hold it! I know they were fake. I told you they were fake. I’m not some dumb blonde who gets by on her looks! In fact, I’m tired of sitting here playing twenty questions and no answers. Since they won’t talk, and you’re clueless, I’ll just find their target and get her to talk!” She stalked out of the room and slammed the door behind her.
Chief Wilson sighed and looked at his men in dismay. “You may go. Keep me informed of any new developments. Give Power Girl all the help she needs if she returns!”
As his men departed, Wilson closed his office door and picked up the telephone. He dialed a number and spoke in hushed tones.
“This is Wilson. Some of our men were just brought in by Power Girl. She’s very suspicious, and I’m more than a little concerned about the security of the project. I’m going to arrange for a transfer for our men. In transit, they will escape. I’ll do all I can to bluff her, but the girl of steel is a loose cannon, and I don’t like the idea of her running around our city with her kind of power and her very bad attitude! She’s exactly the kind of being we created the project for to begin with all those years ago!”
Meanwhile, Power Girl flew across the city in search of the mysterious woman. She had placed a quick call to her hotel to tell Tracy Owens that she had been called back to the convention by a vendor she had wanted to talk to for a while. She seemed to accept my story. In fact, being told to continue touring the city seemed to really make her day! she thought with a smile.
Now, how can I find my mystery woman? It would be nice if her use of power gave off some nice glow or energy signature that I could trace. Maybe like neon letters that read “Power Girl, here I am!” That would be nice, but I didn’t even have a chance to scan her before she vanished. I know the area itself had no such energy trace, nor was the lead cage anything more than ordinary lead.
I’m going to have to do something a bit more creative. I’ve heard her voice. I have a super-memory with total recall. All I have to do is use my super-hearing to listen to the sounds of the city and focus intensely on just that one voice. It would be impossible for most people, but it’s well within the range of my Kryptonian powers. I admit that it’s not the kind of use I enjoy at all! I prefer something a bit more physical!
Power Girl sat down on the top of the Washington Monument and concentrated. She was inundated with thousands of sounds. Sirens, bells, music, voices, cars, and appliances were merely a few of the noises that reached her ears, but with the same strong will and mental focus that she applied to all she did, Kara Zor-L managed to block out one noise after another until she could recognize the one female voice she sought.
“Great! Just fabulous! She’s not talking. How can I pick up her voice if she’s playing mime!” fumed Kara.
The woman she sought was busy as well. She had exited from the sewer, and now she walked down the streets lost in a crowd of ordinary citizens. She had used her odd powers to change her green jumpsuit into a pink skirt and jacket. As she walked down the street, she became aware that fashions and technologies had changed greatly since her time. Cars were smaller, and the hair and clothing of men and woman had altered a lot as well.
My time? I feel as if this is not my time, she thought. It seems like every time I use my powers, I begin to think a bit more clearly. 1951 — I know for a fact that my last memory was of 1951! I know President Truman was in office! I even recall seeing Guys and Dolls on 46th Street! Surely, I’ll regain my more personal memories, too.
Turning to stop at a newsstand, she said, “New York Daily Star, please!”
The man behind the counter bit down on his cigar and said, “New York? The only Daily Star we carry here is the one based in Metropolis. Is that the one you mean?”
She frowned and fingered her dark auburn hair in a nervous gesture that seemed oddly foreign to her. “Yes, I suppose it is.”
Handing her the paper, he said, “That’s twenty-five cents, lady! What’s with the nickel?”
Frowning, she formed a couple other coins from thin air within her hand. “Here,” she said.
She opened the paper and shook her head as she noticed the date and the lead stories. My heavens! It’s not even close to 1951! The world’s passed me by. I’ve somehow lost over thirty years! This story jumps out at me, too. Red Robin Captures Mafia Hit Man! Robin? Is this man the same boy who fought crime with Batman years ago? I suppose it could be! Strange. I don’t feel the horror at his costume that I did with that blonde woman’s! Something tells me that my fear of mystery-men is wrong and not truly of my own volition! If memories can be taken from me, why couldn’t feelings or aversions be put in my mind? How can I even know what I feel is really coming from my heart?
“Who am I?” she said. “Who?” She slammed her fists against the counter, and the smooth wood changed to sand.
The owner gasped and yelled, “What are ya? Some kind of witch?”
“I’m sorry!” she cried out. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to–!”
At that moment, Power Girl heard her voice and zoomed across the city to confront her.
“My name is Power Girl,” she said in a slow and gentle tone. “I don’t know who you are, but I want to help you. I took those men who were chasing you to the police. I’m with the Justice Society of America!”
The dark-haired woman said, “The Justice Society? That can’t be! They broke up!” She turned to run, and Power Girl grabbed her around the hips and lifted her into the air.
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to take you to help, whether you want it or not!” she vowed.
The woman kicked and fought, but she had no chance against Power Girl’s might. Instead she reached back and touched Power Girl’s own body, and the heroine’s legs dissolved into a shapeless glob of some odd substance. At the same moment, the dark-haired woman collapsed to the sidewalk next to where Power Girl sprawled helplessly.
“My legs fused together into some type of protoplasm!” Power Girl said in disbelief. “I’m helpless! Still, my sparring partner is out cold, too!”
Around an hour later, Power Girl returned to normal and wasted no time in taking the unconscious woman to JSA Headquarters. It was easy for her to reach the brownstone in mere moments, secure the woman in the medical facility, and alert the on-duty Doctor Mid-Nite to the situation.
“I’ll check her out, Power Girl,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “I agree with your decision to bring her here. That escape from the police of the men who were chasing her makes this old physician more than a bit suspicious!”
Power Girl nodded in agreement. “I’m glad Wilson at least made an effort to let me know through the JSA, but I’ll feel better if our mystery guest remains safely here until I get some answers.”
Back at the complex, the stern old man nodded in approval as he saw his agents file inside.
“We managed to escape,” said one of them. “That shows just how weak and decadent the authorities are these days. Our group is more vital than ever before!”
Their leader nodded grimly. “Well done. Report to your quarters for debriefing!” He turned to a portly man with a balding head and said, “I saw no need to tell them Wilson is one of us. Thank goodness our agents are planted in most major legal or government agencies. Without Wilson’s help, our cover might have been exposed all too soon. Now, our time is almost right, but not quite yet!”
The fat man nodded and said, “And yet, as you’ve said before, Garrick is becoming a threat. If one of their kind becomes president…!”
The stern man said, “I will not allow it!”
“What of our missing subject?” the other man asked. “Do we continue to search for her?”
“My sources say Power Girl took her away. She could be anywhere! Our best bet is to activate the other agents immediately. Her use to us ended with her rebirth. She was flawed, and thus a failure!”
Later, a distracted Power Girl swooped into her hotel room and began to slip into an elegantly patterned, green-and-gold-colored dress. She sighed as she ran a hand down each leg.
“Thank Rao my legs re-formed an hour after that crazy woman touched me!” she said. “I’ve been through a lot in my time, but this really got to me! I’ve been checking to see if my body was retaining its form every few minutes! I’ve got to shake it off. I’m fine! It’s over now! Doc said I’m fine.”
She heard a gasp and turned to see Tracy Owens step out of the bathroom.
“I — I… was using your shower!” she stammered. “The one is my room is broken! I knew you wouldn’t mind! I was just drying off when I heard you come inside! I… you… you’re Power Girl!”
Karen Starr dropped the green dress to the floor around her feet and stood before Tracy in her white Power Girl costume.
“Tracy, calm down! You’re jumping to a conclusion,” she began. “I’m just wearing this costume because I got a bit carried away at the convention. I was goaded into slipping into it by a couple of party-happy vendors!”
Gazing at Tracy’s wide eyes and stare of disbelief, she muttered under her breath.
“You know, I respect you, and I like you, and I’m not going to carry on with this kind of garbage anymore!” she finally said. “Tracy, you’re right. I am Power Girl. My real name is Kara Zor-L. I am Superman’s cousin. I took the name Karen Starr years ago, and I’ve lived two lives ever since. I am Power Girl, but I’m also Karen. I’m your boss. I’m your friend. That hasn’t changed. I trust you, but I need you to understand that you can never tell anyone about me. Your very safety depends on it. If my enemies knew my true identity, they would strike at all my friends. They would deprive me of any private life as just Karen. Do you see?”
Tracy sank down on the bed and said, “I do! I really do! It all makes sense now! You know you’ve never worn a mask. Why is it everyone doesn’t realize Karen is Power Girl?”
“Superman once showed me a rarely used Kryptonian ability,” Kara said. “He can alter his facial features. I think some subtle manifestation of that power consists of making people look at us in one identity without seeing that we look like our second selves! Call it some type of perpetual super-hypnosis! I can only guess that I was not using it when you walked in on me, because I’ve had a real ordeal.”
“Karen, I’ll never betray you!” said Tracy. “Please, trust me!”
Kara slipped into the fallen dress and said, “I do. It feels good to have a real confidante who doesn’t wear tights and a cape! You don’t have a secret identity of your own, do you?”
Tracy stammered a reply. “No! No! Really! … Oh, you’re joking!”
They laughed in pleasure, and Karen tried to forget her recent ordeal.
Meanwhile, the mystery woman rested safely in her confinement at the JSA Brownstone. Closing her eyes, she tried to find sleep and peace. Sleep came, but only time would tell if she would ever know peace again.