Legion of Super-Heroes: The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of, Chapter 4: Illusions End

by Libbylawrence

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While Mon-El, Invisible Kid, and Wildfire screamed and suffered in their respective nightmares, one of their teammates relished every moment of their pain. Her name was Nura Nal or Dream Girl of Naltor, and the platinum-haired girl carried both the greatest talent for seeing the future that her world of seers and wise women had ever known, as well as perhaps the greatest personal glamor of any Legionnaire. Still, she offered the team more than her looks and her powers. She was also a skilled fighter and a very capable scientist. She presented a deliberate air of superficiality, because doing so suited her capricious nature.

That nature was not in evidence this night. Instead, a look of pure evil filled her luminous eyes, and her sultry form exulted in the agony her friends were feeling. Simply put, Dream Girl was not herself.

“This vessel can hold me for only a little while longer before my nature burns it to ashes. That would leave me helpless and impotent. When this one’s unique powers allowed me to take possession of her comely form, I always saw it as merely a means to an end. I must use my power to kill one of her friends. When the nightmare slays them, then so shall their bodies also die. One death will be enough to enable me to break into this dimension in my true form!”

The voice that came from Nura’s ruby lips was nothing like her normal breathy tones. She was not truly aware of anything. The irony was found in the fact that the Naltorian heroine slept while her body was used by the Dream Demon.

Her revelry ended abruptly when a new figure entered the luxurious room and confronted her.

“You have masked your true nature from me until this night,” said the defiant woman in red and white that stood before the writhing Naltorian. “Your use of your demonic powers and an alteration of Dream Girl’s own abilities alerted me like a siren. I can never truly be deceived by an illusion or false pretense!”

“Sensor Girl!” hissed Nura. “Your mask hides your secrets from your friends. Still, just as you can detect my true nature when I use my powers so, I also have seen your own dreams!”

“You are a demon without form,” said Sensor Girl. “You feed on fantasy and dreams, and you took possession of Nura Nal’s body when she and our friends fought space pirates at the Asteroid Archipelago called Asteroid 73Q. (*) Something about Dream Girl’s visionary gifts allowed you to do so from within the dimension in which you had been trapped for so many eons.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Legion of Super-Heroes: To Rule a World, Chapter 1: Space Pirates.]

Dream Girl tossed back her head and laughed. “Indeed! That spot is the nexus between my dimension and your own. That was where I first made contact with others of your team! Your Invisible Kid and Wildfire battled me there, and I briefly posed as Lyle Norg returned to life in order to gain a better hold on my existence within this reality. (*) They bested me then, and thus I selected them as two of the possible victims of my dreams of death!” She licked her lips and said, “And when they die, I will enter this realm, and teach you all to fear the night!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Death Trip,” Tales of the Legion #317 (November, 1984).]

“Your visions will not kill my friends,” said Sensor Girl. “They were imprisoned within your vivid nightmares, but all it took was my own power to dispel that which were never more than mere phantasms!”

Dream Girl hissed again and said, “I will drive you to madness with my powers while they remain!”

A swift left hook came literally out of nowhere as Invisible Kid struck her down and materialized into view. “Non!” he said. “I have been a silent observer since Sensor Girl freed me and my allies from your spell!”

Wildfire and Mon-El entered as well. “You played with all I have left that is human. I owe you a real hurting!” said Wildfire as he clenched his gloved hands, and energy sparkled around them.

“Easy, Wildfire!” said Mon-El. “We don’t want to hurt Nura! Jacques pulled that punch just enough, I’d say!”

The fallen Dream Girl gasped as the awakened Nura fought for control of her own body. “By the Sacred Seers of Naltor!” she said. “That icky thing took me over and made me do terrible things! I’m so sorry! It was in me when we fought the Emerald Empress! It used me to plant some nightmare in her mind. That’s what left her so dazed. I lied when the others caught up with me. That demon made me do it all!”

“Once Sensor Girl realized what was going on, she was able to somehow free us from the death dreams,” said Mon-El. “She explained your situation to us all.”

Dream Girl clasped her stomach. “I think I’m going to be ill!”

Invisible Kid helped her to her feet and said, “Forgive me for striking you. Sensor Girl said a sudden physical blow would awaken you and free you from the demon’s hold.”

“Forget it,” said Dream Girl. “I can feel that thing has left me!”

The Dream Demon manifested itself once more as a cloud of black smoke. “You robbed me of my host body,” it said. “That witch in red made Dream Girl see her hidden condition. I had managed to conceal myself within a façade that numbed her keen mind. Once her perceptions were freed, it drove me out. I will fade from this plane of existence in seconds! But I will return someday, and you will all know that sleep will only bring you closer to my realm and my power!”

“Part of its hold on Nura consisted of clouding her senses,” said Sensor Girl. “It kept her in a kind of waking vision.”

“I will have a form of revenge,” said the Dream Demon. “Sensor Girl, I have peered into your own dreams. You hide behind a mask. I will end that deception. Legionnaires, know that this woman is truly Projectra of Orando!”

It vanished, and the young heroes stared at Sensor Girl in surprise.

“Jeckie, is that truly you?” said Mon-El. “Imra vouched for your right to be on the team, but we never realized you were Sensor Girl!”

Sensor Girl gestured, and her costume and mask faded to reveal the delicate features of Queen Projectra, their former teammate and the widow of the late Karate Kid. “Yes,” she whispered. “I see no reason to continue with the deception. The Dream Demon exposed me to you all, and I will try to explain my reasons for deceiving you!”

“You were playing us for fools, lady,” said Wildfire. “Did you think we commoners didn’t deserve the truth?”

“Back off, Wildfire! I mean it!” said Mon-El. “Jeckie, you don’t have to say anything. You are our friend, and we trust you. We just didn’t know you were Sensor Girl. Your powers and attitude were so changed from what we remembered.”

She sighed and nodded. “I placed my homeworld of Orando in a different dimension after the murder of poor Val. I felt that could safeguard my subjects. That only offered them security for the future. It did nothing to make up for the pain I brought to them when our enemies in the Legion of Super-Villains attacked my planet. (*) The Council of Orakills, who originally invested me with my power to cast illusions, felt I owed them all penance. Thus my powers were altered, and I was ordered to serve again with the Legion and make up for all that had occurred.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Lest Villainy Triumph,” Legion of Super-Heroes v3 #4 (November, 1984) and “An Eye for an Eye, a Villain for a Hero,” Legion of Super-Heroes v3 #5 (December, 1984).]

“I came to Imra, and she agreed to vouch for me and help me keep up the façade that I was a different woman,” she continued. (*) “That deception was designed to make me more effective. No foe could guess I was altering what they perceived if they could not know me to be the former Queen Projectra. Still, that ruse was only part of my reason for masking myself so completely. I also wanted to put my past behind me completely. The memories of my life as a princess royal and finally as a queen had to be put aside in order for me to function as one without a title. My love for dear Val could never be erased, but I could compartmentalize it as belonging to someone else. As Sensor Girl, I could be free of my past, with both the bad and good parts that accompanied it. I know that my refusal to reveal my true nature angered many of you, like Salu. I am sorry. If you wish me to depart, I will, but I admit that I need to belong very badly.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Unto the New Generation,” Legion of Super-Heroes v3 #14 (September, 1985).]

Mon-El gently hugged her and said, “You are welcome here. Anyone who feels differently will answer to me.”

“Yeah,” said Wildfire. “Look, I shoot off my mouth, but I don’t mean half of what I say.”

Dream Girl interrupted their words of welcome and apology with a squeal.

“Nura, what is it?” asked Invisible Kid. “Did my blow harm you more than you knew?”

The platinum-haired girl smiled slightly and said, “Yes! Just look what you did! You smeared my makeup!”

Laughter filled the room, and a teammate’s homecoming helped usher in the dawn and swept away the dark night like a fading dream.

The End

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