Tales of Earth-I
Origin of the Time Crystal
by Dave Barnowski
The Magic Crystal of History grants its owner the power to travel through time. But if you knew having the time crystal would lead to certain death, would you allow another to accept it, even if it was for the greater good? Immortals Arion and Nommo weigh this question one night in 1934.
Author’s note: Arion is the titular character from Arion, Lord of Atlantis, while Nommo is the immortal Doctor Mist. Bobby and Binks are a pair of time-traveling teenagers who had a strip that ran for three years, predating Superman, from New Fun Comics #1 (February, 1935) to More Fun Comics #50 (December, 1939).
It was hot, sweltering, damp night in New Orleans, Louisiana. Two men were in a small copse of woods near the house where the teenage brother and sister named Bobby and Binks lived. The two men were very ancient, but only one looked old. One was a big, strong black man who looked to be in only in his mid-twenties, and the other looked to be ninety years old, if a day. The two men were arguing in hushed tones, as it was about two in the morning, and they didn’t want to wake anyone up.
“Now look, Arion,” said the black man, “I made the crystal, but I’m having second thoughts about this.”
“We’ve been over this before, Nommo,” said Arion. “Bobby and Binks have to discover that crystal in their attic sometime next year, or else history’s changed.”
“Maybe, maybe not. But if they do find the crystal, they’re doomed.”
“Yes, I know, but we don’t have a choice. Besides, maybe Madame Xanadu was wrong.”
“Arion, she saw them burned at the stake in Salem. Xan doesn’t make that kind of a mistake, and you know it.”
Arion looked hard at Nommo. He was right. If they planted the crystal that would allow Bobby and Binks to have four years of adventures through time, they would also die a horrible and painful death. “We have no choice,” Arion repeated. “Those two kids appeared at exactly the right time to tell us just what we need to know to save at least twenty dangerous situations — information that we did not know. If not for their warnings, we would have made the wrong choices.”
“You don’t know that, Arion,” Nommo whispered harshly.
“Yes, I do. When Ess-Pa died in childbirth, I thought I was wrong about her. If not for the warning of Bobby and Binks, I would not have watched her child as closely as I did. We would have lost the Second Crisis.”
Nommo inhaled deeply and held his breath for a long moment, then exhaled loudly. “All right, Arion,” he said. “You’ve made your point, but you go in and put the crystal in the attic. I haven’t the stomach for it.”
Arion looked at his friend and smiled sadly. “I thank you for making the crystal, Nommo. You’ve done your part. I’ll do mine.”
“Arion, we have two crystals now — the one I made, and the one Xan gave us all those years ago. What are we going to do with the second one?” asked Nommo.
Arion smiled and said, “We wait another twenty-two years, and in 1956 we give it to Rip Hunter, so he can have a power source for his time machine.” With that statement, Arion disappeared and went to the house. Sneaking inside, he crept into the attic. He placed the crystal along with a short note telling Bobby and Binks to stay hidden when they went to Salem, Massachusetts. He knew the note was probably a futile effort to save their lives, but he had to try, anyway. When he returned to Nommo, he told his former pupil about the note.
“Good,” said Nommo. “Hopefully this will change Immortal Man’s report of how he saw them both guillotined back in Paris during the French Revolution.”
The two immortals then left the woods in silence to look for a place to get a good, stiff drink, because neither liked the business they’d done on this night in the summer of 1934.