Rated G for absolute purity of content! No sex, no drugs, no rock and roll! Religion is a touchy subject, though, so if'n ya'll are easily offended by thoughts of a religion other than ya'll's own, ya'll might want to give this one a pass.
Yes, Hell HAS frozen over. This is a story about Valor, as opposed to Mon-El. Ah don't really like the ReBoot Valor, Ah don't! But the situation he finds himself in is fascinating to moi! To wit:
A thousand years previous to the birth of the ReBoot Legion of Super-Heroes a young Daxamite hero named Valor carved a Legend for himself, performing many noble, heroic deeds! What really cemented the Legend Of Valor was when he discovered and thwarted another Dominator plan to conquer the galaxy. In the process he discovered the Dominator Labs and internment camps where the Dominators had been performing experiments on many humans and humanoids to discover their genetic potential.
When the fight was over Valor wiped the Dominator computers of all genetic info, exiled the high caste Dominators to the edges of known space, etc. Then he found new worlds for the new metahumans created by the Dominator experiments to occupy as a sort of buffer zone between the exiled High Castes and the rest of the Galaxy. Most of these worlds became the basis for the 30th century United Planets: Braal, Cargg, Winath, Tharr, and (ugh!) Bismoll, etc! Then he vanished. For a thousand years.
Until, in the late 30th century, he was discovered in the Stasis Zone where he had been placed by the Post-Crisis Superboy to prevent his death from lead poisoning. Once he was released he discovered that he was a religious figure. That's right! To trillions of sentients through out the 30th century ReBoot galaxy Valor is the rough equivalent of Moses or Mohammed. And his return, for believers, is very like The Second Coming. Got that??
Well, neither did Valor, actually. He was forced to assume the name M'Onel (ancient Martian word for "He-Who-Wanders") and keep his actual name and presence in the 30th Century a secret lest he start a Jihad (Holy War) ...
Needless to say Valor/Lar Gand was NOT a happy camper:):) Triad - Luornu Durgo of Cargg. Like all Carggites Triad can "triplicate" herself ... she has three bodies. In Lu's case they each have separate personalities: Triad Orange is shy and retiring. Triad Purple is outspoken and a little abrasive sometimes. Triad neutral is the peacemaker between the two):)
Conversation With A Legend
A Tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes
by Dannell Lites
"Get up off your knees, for the love of space!"
Oh, Valor help me! He was shouting at me. Valor, the World Seeder, was shouting. At *me*. I wanted to cringe and cover my ears, but ... but ... What had I *done*? What? I had leapt at the chance to bring him his meal; the chance to serve him. The thought that I was standing before him in the privacy of his new quarters at Legion HQ was dizzying. Obediently, I scrambled to my feet, trying my very best to avoid looking at the dark scowl of rage twisting his features.
"Yes, my Lord," I stammered. "I'm sor -"
"Don't call me that!" he shouted again, cutting me off in mid-word.
At his side his hands balled themselves into fists and I fell back, hanging my head in shame. Why was he so angry? I've never felt such inadequacy. Here was the moment I had dreamed of for most of my life, that everyone in our Church prayed for. I was face to face with the source of all my beliefs; Valor, who rescued my distant ancestors from the Dominator labs and prison camps and brought them to Cargg. Who seeded the Gandian worlds with the metahumans he rescued from the horrors of the Dominators' genetic manipulations and found homeworlds for them all. Valor, who defeated the Khunds and taught us all to live in peace. And then who left us for a thousand years.
"No," said that deep voice, softer, gentler, now. "I'm the one who's sorry. I didn't mean to fright - to upset you. It's all right. Thanks for the sandwich." He smiled disarmingly. "How did you know I like grilled cheese sandwiches, anyway?" I flushed at his praise.
"It - it's in the records ... The historical records, I mean." His eyes widened in appalled silence.
"What I like to *eat* is part of your historical records?" I nodded, eager to please him.
"Well, it is if you know what to look for. Lex Luthor The Second kept very meticulous records of your stay at LexCorp. And every day for lunch you had a grilled cheese sandwich." He shook his head in rueful dismay.
"Yeah, that sounds like Luthor, all right. I suppose you also figured out what I like to drink?"
"Sugar Bubble Cola," I replied almost instantly. "I'm pretty sure you also like spaghetti with meatballs. And Combo Pizza. You're not too fond of liver, though. You only ate that once." He made a sour face and I giggled. "But you certainly ate a lot of Cheese Puffs .. whatever *they* are ... " He grinned.
"It's not easy bein' cheesy," he quipped. I tried not to frown in puzzlement, but I think I lost the battle. He shook his head again and shrugged.
"Never mind. I watched a lot of television, too. Okay, so I'm a junk food junkie. What else does it say about me in those records?"
"Well," I considered, "Luthor did seem to be very pleased that you were so attracted to Supergirl ... 'I have the boy by the short hairs!' is how he explained it in his private diary ... whatever *that* means." He turned the brightest shade of red I've ever seen on a human face and fell back onto the bed, covering his eyes in humiliation.
"Arrrrggghhh!" he arrrgghhhed. "*That's* in the records too?" I nodded, uncertain but still trying to please. "Oh Gods! My life is over! Luthor's a grease spot! If he weren't already dead for a thousand years, I'd *have* to kill him!" He raised himself back up and glared at me, making me suddenly very glad that no member of the Durgo family had ever been named Luthor. "Is there anything else I should know?" he asked, voice dripping sarcasm.
I know a thousand tales about Valor. Furiously I thought, searching for one that wouldn't upset him. Yes! Just the thing! "I was always fond of the story of your fight with the evil Lobo," I told him in haste. "How you defeated him and made him apologize for insulting the beautiful Phase. That one is so Romantic!" He stared at me and my heart sank when his jaw dropped. Somehow I just knew that I had done it again. When he burst out laughing, I was sure of it.
"The beautiful *Phase*?" he choked. I nodded in puzzlement.
"That's right," I returned meekly. "'The One'! You mean ... you mean she *wasn't* beautiful?" My disappointment must have shone like a sunny summer day.
"Oh, Phase was pretty enough," he amended quickly, beating back more laughter. "But that's not how it happened." He looked very abashed. "'The One' was my spaceship, Pilgrim One. Lobo called her a 'sissy cruiser', so I lost my temper and fragged him. *Not* my finest hour." My face crumpled, I just know it did. Purple says anyone can read me like a trashy holonovel. I guess she's right.
"Oh." was all I could say, biting my lip. Gently, Valor took my hand.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to disappoint you, either." He sighed and my hand began to tingle where he touched it. He grew very serious. "But that's what I've been trying to tell you," he said quietly. "I'm not Valor ... at least not the Valor you know. My name is Lar ... Lar Gand ... and I'm a man. Just a man. I'm only eighteen years old ... I'm not some perfect demi-god. I screw up ... all the time." He rolled his eyes at the ceiling. "Gods, do I screw up!" He drew in a deep breath. "The only thing I've ever tried to do is the best I can, that's all." Sadness spread itself though his clear blue eyes like a fog. "Most of the time I don't even succeed at that."
It was terrible to see him so ... vulnerable, like any other being. My lips flew open to protest, but I swiftly closed them again, at a loss for words. I wanted so badly to soothe the terrible look of failure on his face. Why can't I ever find the words? Purple is right; I'm hopeless, just hopeless.
"Why are you so afraid of being venerated as you deserve?" I finally asked, the softness of my words hiding the blasphemy of my doubts, I prayed. His face stormed over and I was terrified that he would yell at me again. Valor's sake, why couldn't I keep my foot out of my mouth around him? Oh why couldn't I say the right thing? What was wrong with me? Tears threatened, but I steeled myself, knowing that I deserved his anger if I couldn't help him understand such a simple thing. He leapt up off the bed and for a moment I was afraid that he'd leave me, filled with contempt for my ignorance.
But he didn't.
Slowly, he backed away from me as if I were a great threat that he didn't want to face. I wanted to die. My family, the Durgos, have been Valorists since the founding of Cargg. My grandmother Murlu raised me after my father deserted us and my mother drank herself to death. She was the only one who ever understood me, her poor aberrant grandchild. Ever since I can remember, I've been different. Unlike other Carggites, I had three separate personalities, one for each of my three bodies. That isn't the normal Cargitte way of things. I, and others, identify my different selves by the colors of my Legion uniform. I'm Triad Orange, the quiet, shy one. Triad Purple is the vocal, aggressive one of me and Triad Neutral keeps the peace between us. Everybody but Granny Murlu thought I was insane. And I mean that quite literally. After Granny died, they locked me up in an asylum and tortured me, trying to "cure" me. And when Granny died, hanging over her bed was a picture of Valor. She was deeply religious. She passed into the next life with His Name on her lips, commending me into His care. I was about to say something when he answered my question.
"Because I like it," he said. He turned haunted eyes on me and his lips drew themselves into a thin, pale line of shame and private pain. "I don't want to be worshipped because I like it," he whispered. "I like it a lot." Looking very tired of a sudden, he sat carefully down in a chair well away from me.
"Do - do your records tell you what happened on Baaldur," he asked, staring at the floor as if it were the most fascinating thing in the galaxy.
"Oh yes!" I was enthusiastic. This was another of my favorite parts of the Legend. "You ended a hundred generations of continuous warfare and misery. Your presence forced the petty warlords from power and united the people against them. Until the defeat of the Dominators it was your most glorious triumph." Just saying the words made me flush with the memory of the first time I read the stirring Tale of Baaldur and saw the lovely holos from The Book of the Legend.
And then I saw Valor's face. Pale and stricken, he looked as if he wanted to be very, very sick.
"Triumph?" I thought he might choke on the word, he stumbled over it so. He ran unsteady fingers through his space-dark hair, still refusing to meet my eyes. My heart clenched when I saw that. I clung tightly to my faith in the face of what he might say next.
"It wasn't any kind of a triumph," he whispered. "I was dying ... Baaldur was my last chance to - to -" He stopped himself, visibly gathering his courage. His voice, when he resumed, was stronger, more controlled, but still hollow with shame.
"Baaldur was my last chance to really do something worthwhile with these great powers I'd been given," he explained, "I wanted so badly to accomplish something, to make a difference."
Unthinking, I seized his hand and held it. He was in such pain it broke my heart to see him. I longed to hold him, to ease his agony, smooth the creases in that high brow. But, of course, that would have been the rankest blasphemy. He was Blessed, his spirit a goal that can only be accomplished by faith and compassion. And you don't sully purity with common, though pleasant things, like desire.
"Oh but, you did, you did," I cried in distress. "You saved millions of lives! Today the people of Baaldur are the staunchest Valorists in the galaxy!" He flinched as if I'd found a weapon that could pierce his invulnerable heart.
"You don't understand," insisted the founder of my faith, desperation touching his deep voice. "All the things I tried to give the people of Baaldur, the joy ... the freedom ... they didn't want them. In the end, they didn't know what to do with them. They - they wanted to serve me. They made me their conqueror, not their liberator. I spent the last of myself to free them ... and it was all for nothing." He rose, pacing at his shame and anger.
"And I liked it," he said. "When they bowed and scraped, sang my praises, rushed to do as I asked them, I - liked - it. I wanted their worship so badly it was an ache in my bones! Gods help me, I wanted it to last forever. When Glorith offered me my life and the chance to rule the galaxy at her side ... " His face filled with despair as his voice fell away from him.
"I - I - I almost did it. I almost said yes. And she saw through me like glass. 'I know everything about you, darling.' she told me, smiling. 'You forget. I've seen you ... perform ... ' I can still feel her hands on my face. 'I've watched you play to the natives, my lusty, sweet boy. Admit it ... we both thrive on adoration and worship.'" I reached for his hand again and this time he reached back.
"'And there's the difference between us, Lori.' you told her," I reminded him, quoting from The Book. "'I'm not proud of it.' was your answer. Don't you see? You didn't give in. You didn't fall to temptation." He sighed.
"But I *wanted* to. I've never wanted anything more. The fame ... the worship in their eyes when they looked at me. The adoration in *your* eyes when you see me." Startled, I blinked rapidly. He stroked my cheek with gentle fingers, then drew his hand away quickly. "I yearn for it. Sometimes I'm terrified I need it to live, I need it so much."
"Well, of course you do!" I exclaimed. "You wouldn't be human otherwise!" He gave me a bleak smile.
"Human?" he asked, "I thought I was supposed to be a god or something." I pulled him down and guided him to a seat next to me.
"You really don't understand do you? Val - ah - Lar ... we don't think you're a god. Like all of us, his Children, you're a part of the Godhead. An especially blessed part. Blessed *because* you're human and not perfect. *Because* you can make mistakes and then try to set them right. *Because* you can be tempted and not yield. You struggled and fought and even lost but you never gave up, never refused to help when you could. If you were perfect, never failed or did the wrong thing, then your struggle wouldn't have any meaning. But simply by being human, like the rest of us, you give us all hope. The struggle's the important thing; it doesn't always matter if you win. That's all anyone can do. You taught us that. We read about your Life and it inspires us to be better people. Like you, we may not always succeed ... but we *try*."
Flustered, I covered my mouth with my hands. "I'm sorry," I tried to apologize, "I'm not saying this very well, I guess." I watched his face soften and peace returned to his eyes. Slowly, he leaned forward and kissed me tenderly on the forehead.
"You said it wonderfully well, little one," he assured me, softly. "Thank you."
Blushing scarlet, I fled behind my hands again.
His hands were large and calloused, I noticed for the first time as he lowered my own hands with a smile. My hands looked so small, engulfed in his larger ones. This close the many tiny scars crisscrossing his palms and the backs of his hands were plain. They reminded me of his penchant for the mechanical, his fondness for tinkering. He likes to use those hands. I've seldom seen them still. He'd scarcely been here a week and already he was a familiar sight in the enormous Legion Vehicle Maintenance building. Covered with grim and lubricant, up to his elbows in the engines of a hoverskimmer or even one of the huge Legion Cruisers, humming happily. But apparently, he hadn't spent all his time there.
"I'm not the only one who never gave in, am I? What about *you*?" His smile was dazzling, lifting me out of myself, up into a happier realm. "I've been reading about my saviors here in the Legion. So many remarkable people. And you're one of the most remarkable of all."
"Me?" I squeaked, not liking the sound of my own voice at all. Like a little mouse! Get a grip, Lu!
"Yes, *you*," he returned, stern voiced. "You've had your own struggle to find yourself, your place on Cargg and here in the Legion. And no matter how impossible they made it for you, you kept fighting. You never let them destroy *you*, or make you into someone else for the sake of their own comfort. You won. You're Luornu Durgo -- the very best Luornu Durgo, the very best Carggite, you can be. And I'm very proud to call you my friend." It was a long speech for him and I glanced quickly away because I didn't want him to see the tears in my eyes.
Laughing, he ruffled my short hair. "Olly, olly oxen free!" he called as I wiped my damp eyes with an embarrassed air. "Come out, come out, wherever you are!" Giggling now, I obeyed. He thrust a chill drinkbulb into my hand. "Have a Sugar Bubble Cola," he urged, "you'll like it!" Tentative, then with authority, I took a large gulp. It was all I could do to swallow.
"Sweet Valor," I sputtered, choking and coughing. "There's enough sugar in this stuff to preserve a dinobeast!"
"Yeah!" he enthused. "And then some!" Eyes twinkling merrily, he added sagely, "Just wait 'til the sugar high hits! Outstanding!"
"'Sugar high'?" I began cautiously, fairly certain I didn't really want to know. "What's that?"
"You'll see." was his enigmatic promise.
Smiling bravely but with trepidation, I had the definite feeling that I was going to regret this.