Myriad looked at the bloody and beaten Legionnaire before her. In his unconsciousness, Invisible Kid had slowly turned visible. He was helpless, just as she had been. But no more. She would never be a victim again, and anyone who stood in her way would suffer the same fate as the man before her. She concentrated, and each of her replicates merged back into her. The remaining girl bent down to claim her prize: the Legion flight ring.
Legion Headquarters was exceptionally well guarded. That was common knowledge. But Myriad’s underworld contacts had given her some clues of what to expect. Only someone wearing a flight ring could enter the complex, they had said.
As she approached the main entrance and waved the ring in front of the identi-scan, it registered Invisible Kid. The doors slid opened.
Inside, Myriad split into two bodies. One waited at the entrance while the other walked across the tiled floor toward the inner doorway. The second Myriad made it only three feet when she was overcome by gas that spewed from the tiles. The first Myriad covered her nose and mouth and replicated again. This time, using her replicated flight ring, the third Myriad flew over the tiles – only to be caught in a metal clamp that emerged from a hidden location in the ceiling.
By now, silent alarms had no doubt alerted the Legionnaires to her presence. She replicated into thirty Myriads; surely, one of them would reach the inner entrance. Twenty of them immediately were caught by the knockout gas, metal clamps, and plasti-nets. The first to reach the door on the other side received an electric shock as she touched it. This was going to be harder than Myriad thought.
Next to the inner door, one of the Myriads noticed a display with various symbols, some Interlac, some other languages – a combination keypad, she realized. She replicated several more times, and each of her replicates in turn began punching random symbols. Most were knocked out by electric shocks. But, finally, one succeeded.
The inner door opened. Myriad was inside Legion Headquarters.
Shadow Lass had been expecting a quiet evening on monitor duty when the alarm sounded. She told herself she should have known there was no such thing as a quiet evening at Legion HQ, but her knowing smile rapidly faded once she saw the nature of the emergency. The unthinkable had happened – Legion headquarters was being invaded. She adjusted the monitors to see who would be so audacious. But the hidden monitors in the foyer revealed only that a shadowy figure had just walked through the front door. Then another figure appeared out of nowhere. When the second figure was overcome by knockout gas, more figures appeared – until the foyer was so full of gas, she couldn't tell what was happening. Legion’s security devices weren’t supposed to work this way. Most intruders would be nailed instantly.
She alerted all available Legionnaires, but it frustrated her that she couldn’t tell them what to expect. The irony that Shadow Lass, mistress of shadows, could not penetrate the shadowy gas in the foyer was not lost on her.
Colossal Boy reached the foyer just as the inner door opened. He prepared to expect the worst – the Fatal Five? the LSV? Universo? Would any of them be dumb enough to just waltz through the front door? Instead, he found himself face to face with – a girl.
“Hey you!” he shouted. “You shouldn’t be here” – and immediately chided himself for his assumption that she had just wandered in like a lost tourist. This young woman, whoever she was, had breached Legion security. There had to be more to her than met the eye.
Much more, Colossal Boy learned instantly, when the girl replicated into several selves. He grew to a height of 18 feet, the largest he could manage within the confines of the hallway – but more than enough to deal with most menaces.
But it wasn’t enough this time.
The young women seemed to grow stronger each time they replicated, dragging him down and piling on top of him. His last thought was that he hoped no one would tell Timber Wolf that he got beaten by a girl.
From his laboratory deep within the complex, Brainiac 5 watched with incredulity. On one monitor, Colossal Boy had already fallen. On another, Chemical King and Princess Projectra were being overrun. In the main meeting hall, Element Lad caused several of the invaders to fall through the floor, which he had turned into nitrogen, but more appeared out of nowhere. Karate Kid stood his ground in the armory, but for how long? Nearby, Cosmic Boy’s magnetism had proven futile against a sea of opponents with no obvious metal trappings.
Brainiac 5's comrades were being taken unawares, divided and conquered in their own headquarters. He wanted to respond to the alarm and help them. As deputy leader, he could coordinate their efforts. But he knew he needed to remain behind and analyze the situation before deducing the appropriate course of action. The only concrete information he had learned so far had startled even him.
All of this chaos was created by one girl.
The DNA analyzers in the security database revealed that the invader was Carggite. More, she was replicating herself to an unimaginable degree. How was this possible? He had to figure out who she was and what she wanted.
"Computer," he called out, activating the voice-recognition command, "search recent news files from the planet Cargg. Focus on crimes with an emphasis on disappearances." Call it a hunch, he thought . . .
A series of images flashed before his eyes. "Stop!" he called when one captured his attention. He scanned the news item and then permitted himself a brief smile. It was gratifying to have a hunch confirmed.
He now knew who the intruder was and what she wanted. He also knew she had to be stopped at all costs. He reached over to a console and pressed the trans-time signal device.