Starman: Brave New World, Chapter 1: A World Without Heroes

by Libbylawrence

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Continued from Starman: Fatal Finishing School

The new Starman, David Knight, had just thwarted a kidnapping plot, when his shapely foe Artemis Crock had drawn him through some type of magical portal on the orders of her mysterious grandmother. He shook his head. “What are you saying? Your grandmother is a witch? She brought us here, and here is another Earth? Like Earth-One?”

Artemis stomped one foot in irritation. “No! That’s the problem,” she said. “The Earths are closed from one another, thanks to something your old man’s JSA pals like Doctor Fate did, I’d wager!”

“This is merely another dimension, not a parallel Earth, handsome,” said a deep-voiced woman with a sultry manner and long blonde hair that cascaded down to her shoulders. She wore a leopard-print sweater and black pants. She looked very much like Artemis.

“Grandma! We found you!” said Artemis.

“She’s your grandmother?! But she’s so… I mean–!” began David.

Magic restored my youth, precious!” said the woman once called the Tigress, who now called herself the Enchantress.

“Some time ago I tried to leave Earth — our Earth — the one you tights-wearing types call Earth-Two,” said the Enchantress. (*) “I failed. My magicks brought me here, instead. It’s some pocket-dimension within Earth-Two’s universe. Apparently the way to Earth-One is blocked, even to my magic. I could not return to Earth-Two, either. I was stuck. Then I mentally made contact with Arty, here.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Law’s Legionnaires: The Deadlier of the Species, Chapter 2: Chosen Prey.]

“Right! I thought I was going bonkers,” said Artemis. “I mean, I’d barely met Gran before mother and I ended up in jail, and she vanished during our battle with Liberty Belle, Wonder Woman, and others.”

“I could not reach my daughter Paula, but something about Arty enabled me to contact her mind,” explained the Enchantress. “In time, I gathered enough energy to free her from her cell. She, in turn, agreed to help free me from this limbo.”

“I took the job for Karyn to gain some cash in case I needed to hire someone like Wotan or Zor,” explained Artemis.

The Enchantress chuckled. “My dear! Zor would take more than money from you!”

Artemis paled and said, “OK. So, I saw Starman Junior, here, and figured that magic wand of his could free you. In fact, by abducting him to this dump, I’ve given him no choice but to free us both!”

Starman shrugged. “Hold it! My cosmic rod can move people from one Earth to another, or Dad did so once or twice before, but I don’t know how he did it, nor do I think I can do it under the current conditions. I can’t take you to Earth-One, but maybe I can return us to our world.”

The Enchantress smiled. “I agree. I made the error to try to jump from Earth-Two to Earth-One and ended up here. I won’t make that error again!”

Starman said, “Take my hands!” He then frowned and said, “Artemis, quit playing around!” He linked hands and concentrated. Nothing happened. “Man, we’re stuck here!” he said ruefully.

The Enchantress scowled. “If you cannot return us to our dimension, then we’d better get moving! My magic will have drawn them down on us!”

“‘Them’?” asked Starman. “The police? Are you a felon here, too?”

“Don’t question her!” said Artemis. “If she’s worried about being caught, then trust me, you don’t want to run into them, either!”

Starman wrapped an energy bubble around them, and they flew off into a wooded glade outside the city. “OK, tell me, what is this place?” he asked. “I know Earth-One differs from our world in that the heroes came along later, and Earth-Three was a twisted version in which the ‘heroes’ were villains. What’s this place’s motif?”

“I’ve been a literal fugitive since my arrival,” said the Enchantress. “My magic attracted the troops that keep peace here, and I barely escaped. The world is like ours, except everything in modern society was and is a product of the war.”

“You mean World War II never ended here, or the Nazi forces won?” asked Artemis.

“That’s like another world I’m aware of,” said Starman. “It was given the designation of Earth-X.”

The Enchantress frowned. “Not the war between the Axis and the Allies — the war between Alexei Luthor and Vandal Savage!”

“Two old villains — no offense — how did any battle between them alter the world?” asked Starman.

“It was not confined to the pair of them,” explained the Enchantress. “They were merely the most infamous. The Joker, Doctor Light, the Wizard, Baroness von Gunther — all of them and more, perhaps including versions of your parents, waged war for domination of the world!”

“Mother and father?” asked Artemis. “Do I exist here, too?”

“Hold it!” said Starman. “Surely, if those criminals and madmen created the society of this world by their actions, then a Justice Society must have tried to stop them. Where are the heroes of this world, such as Starman, Green Lantern, and Superman?”

The Enchantress laughed coldly. “That’s the whole point, honey. There are no heroes on this world and never have been!”

Starman gasped. “A world without heroes! Even Earth-Three had a good Luthor and relatively few villains. I can’t imagine a world with possibly all the creeps our world has without any crime-fighters!”

“Sounds dull to me,” said Artemis. “I mean, I’d get bored without some challenge.”

“Don’t be a dumb blonde,” said the Enchantress. “It is a virtual nightmare here. The heroes you fight play by certain rules of conduct. Imagine a world where anyone you fight plays dirty!”

“How could this place exist?” asked Starman. “No one has ever heard of it. Guys like Green Lantern and Doctor Fate surely would have encountered it before.”

“From what I determined by magic, this dimension sprang up after the Crisis and developed a retroactive history as it did so!” said the Enchantress.

“History can be changed or diverted,” said Starman. “Perhaps we’d better look into the matter a bit more.”

“Hold it! Remain where you are!” shouted a voice as a group of uniformed men raced into the clearing. One fell with a gasp as Artemis fired a crossbow bolt into his chest.

“Just toxin. He’ll live,” she said as Starman frowned. He blasted the ground from beneath the others as they closed in on the odd trio.

“This is your call,” said the Enchantress. “If I use magic, it’ll only bring more of them here!”

“I’ll end this fast!” vowed Starman, melting the weapons being raised by his foes, and he knocked one cold with a swift left hook. “These creeps run things in NYC! Who are they?” wondered Starman.

“We serve Savage the Conquerer!” gasped one startled figure as Artemis threatened him with a knife.

“Vandal Savage,” said Starman. “So he rules New York. Pretty sick concept.”

“More will be coming,” said the Enchantress. “Try to get us far from here.”

Starman nodded and flew off with the two blondes. Before long, the threesome emerged from a store in more customary clothes. “I left money there. Hated to rob the place, but in our costumes, we’re anything but hard to notice,” said Starman.

“Come on, don’t be so provincial,” said Artemis. “You’re out of the world, you know. Live a little!”

“Listen, right and wrong don’t change,” said Starman.

The Enchantress laughed shrilly. “Darling, he’s as square as his father, or so reputation would indicate!”

“This world has a library over there,” Starman said. “At least knowledge is allowed.”

They entered the building, and Starman reached a newspaper microfiche reader. He scanned the dates and gasped.

FDR was killed by Gudra and the Valkyries Hitler conjured up with the Spear of Destiny! he thought. The presidents that followed him are unknown to me. What happened to Truman, Eisenhower, and the rest?

He whipped around to a sporting almanac. Ted Grant was jailed for murdering Socker Smith! Terry Sloane and Will Everett were Olympians, but nothing more!

David continued reading. The Brotherhood of the Electron destroyed all of California as part of an extortion plot! The Joker murdered the entire Supreme Court in 1945. Various landmarks were stolen and destroyed by the Injustice Society! This is all too terrible.

Artemis elbowed him suddenly. “Look! Trouble!” She pointed to a group of weirdly costumed men who approached from the rear.

“You possess magical powers, and you carry a weapon of unique design. We want you to come with us!” insisted the first man.

Artemis kicked him fully in the face. He fell forward, and the man behind him said, “We have no time for this! Do you know the risk we run? Come with us before Savage’s stormtroopers get here!” said the second man with the exact same monotone delivery of the one who was now stunned on the ground.

“They speak as if they all had the same personality,” said Starman, “like some hive mentality!”

“And a powerful mind it is!” said the Enchantress. “I sense its malice from here!”

“Ultra-Humanite!” said Starman. “Why should we go anywhere with a maniac like you?”

Artemis vaulted over a table and kicked another newcomer flat. “Darling, hate to be a nag, but company’s coming!” she called.

David nodded. “OK, Ultra, you seem to be controlling multiple bodies at once. I guess you had plenty of time to refine your technique without the JSA to oppose you! Why should we go with you?”

The nearest man said, “Because you come from another dimension. My scanner proves that, and I am the only one who can help you return to it!” said the man in a monotone voice.

Starman nodded. “OK, take us to your leader!” He scooped up one of the Ultra drones and his two female companions and soon arrived at a large skyscraper.

“This is UltraCorp. Welcome!” said a beautiful Latino brunette. “Be assured we are safe. Savage may be immortal, but so am I, at least as long as my mind can transport from any host body to another at will.”

“My gosh! He’s in Catwoman’s body!” gasped David as he recognized the Yolanda Montez of this dimension.

“If you aid me in my crusade against Savage, you’ll also get back to your world,” continued Ultra, “for the place I wish you to attack contains the technology I need to conquer Savage, as well as the way for you to return home. It’s called the Fortress of Science, and its master is Alexei Luthor!”

“If — and that’s a big if — we help you, how do we find this Fortress of Science?” asked Starman.

Ultra laughed a sultry purr. “You may know it by its original name: the White House!”

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