The man turned around from his picture window and looked across his desk. There was Lois, his co-worker, smiling at him. "Daydreaming again, Smallville? You won't get out of treating me to lunch that easily."
Lois turned on her heels and left the office. Clark grabbed his coat and hat and followed her.
"Jimmy's Fish n' Chips? Is this your idea of a joke?" Lois asked sternly as Clark parked his car at the curb.
"It's some of the best 'real' food you'll ever eat, Lois. Give it a chance." Clark replied with a smile. The pair left the car and headed in. The joint was crowded, the long bar on the left full of workers on their lunch break. Seven of the eight tables were packed. Clark made his way toward the last table, guiding Lois.
"You're kidding. I don't know any of these.." she began to protest as Clark pulled a chair out for her.
"Lois, this is the kind of place where everyone shares the table. It's fun, really. You'll meet people you never would meet otherwise."
"outside of the police beat..." Lois muttered under her breath.
"Well hello! I seen you on the TV. You work on over at the Planet?" a middle-aged man greeted them, in between bites of ketchup-drowned fish.
"Y..Yes." Lois replied, giving Clark a nasty side glance. He stood up, raised his arm and whistled, getting the attention of the waitress.
Lois balked at her surroundings. On the walls were various pictures of 'sports heroes', most of them soccer stars. Among them were some local celebrities, Clark included. The wood panel walls and the crowded atmosphere guaranteed that this was the last time she'd ever come here.
"We'll take two fish sandwiches and a basket of fries." Clark ordered. Lois shook her head. Clark sat after ordering and the two made light conversation.
Clark suddenly jumped from his chair. "What are.." Lois began. The waitress put their food down. Clark dropped a twenty and headed out the door.
"What.. Clark, why are you.." Lois mumbled, clearly perturbed. She shook her head then took a bite of her sandwich. "Wow! This IS good!"
Clark smiled. She liked the sandwich, he knew that she would.
He, however, might not get back to his sandwich. He was halfway across town now, in the red and blue, responding to a distress cry he'd heard with his super-hearing.
As he touched down at the window ledge of an old brick building he knew something was wrong. The room inside had maps on the wall and devices that were 'unearthly', and the telescope at the window, while looking normal, was vastly superior to human work, he detected with microscopic vision.
That, and the man on the bed was green.
"Thank you for coming, Superman. I am K'plak. You have not seen my kind before, but you have heard of us. Driven from our worlds and scattered across the universe, we are more legend than race now. Only my shape changing has allowed me to survive on Earth. They have spies everywhere."
The green man had gotten up and gestured with his hands as he spoke. The sparsely decorated room contained very little of the basic human necessities for life.
"Who are you? Why did you call me?" Clark asked, taking in every detail. The star maps varied in familiarity to him. Some regions he didn't know at all. One was Krypton.
The green man stroked his multi-cleft chin. "I call you, Superman, because they come. The destroyers of my worlds, the worlds of the Daxamites, those of the Czarnians and of the Kree. They that destroyed Krypton are coming for Earth, Superman. The Shi'ar Imperial Guard come."
"The destroyers of Krypton? That's ridiculous. Nobody destroyed Krypton, it exploded."
Clark clearly did not believe what he heard. This green man before him had to be a Skrull, that much was obvious, but he'd fouled himself up with the lie about Krypton.
"How would you know what happened to Krypton? You were sent here as a baby." K'plak replied, reaching for a metal file on his bedside table.
"There were learning tapes in the craft that brought me here. They explain that internal pressures and aggressive terraforming brought about Krypton's demise. I still have the on-board computer, I've talked with it several times about the tragedy."
"Your father did not want you seeking revenge against the Shi'ar. When he sent you away, he had no idea of the power you would attain here. He only knew that it was a civilized world where you might find refuge."
Clark shook his head. "I don't know what your game is, but.."
K'plak interrupted him. "Humor an old man and go ask your computer about the Shi'ar. Hurry, assemble your forces. I don't want to die with this planet."
Clark didn't know why, but he obeyed. He helped K'plak gather his things, then the two of them went straight to the Fortress. K'plak instantly liked the place, he detested the 'primitive' planet. This place reminded him of space, and other planets.
Clark found a room for K'plak to store his belongings, then the pair went to the computer room. Superman stood upon a raised, circular platform and placed his hands on the flat, angled tops of two columns.
"Computer, tell me about the Shi'ar." he said. A great whirring began. A mechanical voice spoke quickly.
"Security locks dropped: Krypton, Shi'ar, Imperial Guard. Others pending."
The viewscreen before him displayed the face of his father. A new voice replaced that of the computer.
"Kal-el. My son. I hoped that you would never need to know of this, but now there must be a necessity to tell you of the Shi'ar.
"They are conquerors of worlds, son. Their ships are weaker in strength than those of some of the worlds they have destroyed, but they have a far greater weapon: The Shi'ar Imperial Guard.
"It was only a team of five such warriors that were responsible for the destruction of your birth world. They killed at will and altered Krypton's ecosystem, plunging us into an ice age. Then they attacked the planet itself, turning it toxic against us. They increased internal pressures to the breaking point.
"For three days they stopped their attack. So sure of our destruction, they left us for three days to celebrate a Shi'ar holiday. It was during this time that I launched you to the planet you reside at now.
"If it is possible, escape. There is no fighting the Imperial Guard. Please, son. You are our world's legacy. Do not let yourself be killed."
In a flash, Clark was back in Metropolis, in his grey suit. The Fortress had been secured to assure that K'plak could interfere with nothing, in case he got too 'curious'.
As Clark entered Jimmy's Fish n' Chips, Lois waved him over. The place was mostly empty now as people had left to go back to work.
"Oh Clark, thanks for bringing me here! This is my cousin Eugene, who I haven't seen since I was eight! He's a cook here. You know, I thought I remembered the taste of that fish sandwich."
Clark smiled. He would have loved to sit with them and chat but there was no time. "Lois, I took an emergency call. I'll be out of Metropolis for a while, let Perry know that I needed to go. I can't refuse this call for help."
Clark put his car keys on the table for Lois. "I'll be catching a ride, so feel free to use my car. Nice meeting you, Eugene." With that, Clark was back out the door.
He was back in the red and blue as soon as possible. He'd already called an emergency assembly of the JLA, and was on his way to their satellite.
The first person Clark saw was Al Pratt. The young Professor of Nuclear Physics at Gotham U. had had his home broken into several years ago. He was beaten nearly to death while his wife was brutalized. When the invaders had finally left, taking with them everything valuable that they could carry, the police discovered that Al's infant son Bruce had died. They'd covered him in blankets to stifle his crying...and suffocated him.
Pratt had singlemindedly gone to work on a secret research project that closed out his wife and students. Papers of divorce were filed, the job was lost, but Pratt achieved what he had desired. By manipulating cosmic matter, he was able to shrink to subatomic size, ignore gravity and move at incredible speeds at this size, then pop back to normal when he desired. He made a costume that would perform the same feats, and took the name Batman by which to strike out at evil in vengeance.
Barry Allen leaned against a computer bank, chatting with his best friend, super stretcher Reed Richards. Barry was the Flash, the fastest man alive, perhaps even faster in running than Superman himself.
King Namor stood near the giant aquarium that lined one row of windows. Clark was not sure if he was watching the fish or staring past them into space.
Black Canary and Green Arrow, finally husband and wife, sat in the meeting area.
As always The Vision, the pale, mechanical guardian of the satellite, moved silently about the station like a ghost.
Raven and Starfire, both aliens, were the newest members of the League. Having more in common with each other than with the 'humans', they had become fast friends.
Finally, as a representative of the Hawk Brigade of 17 soldiers from Thanagar, Katar Hol stood confidently, staring back down at Earth, which he'd been assigned to defend.
When they saw Clark, all chatter stopped. This was a Priority One call, used only in the utmost of dangerous situations.
"Have a seat in the meeting room, team. I've got something to tell you."
As the Justice League gathered in the meeting room, Superman glanced out into space. They had destroyed his birth planet, and now they wished to destroy his adopted world. It would not be.
"I must start this meeting with a question. Have any of you heard of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard?"
Starfire stood. "They are the ones that destroyed Tamaran. Raven's people evacuated their entire planet into another dimension to escape them."
Katar Hol removed his helmet. His red and black eyes flickered. The immense man climbed to his feet, muscles flexing. Then a deep voice, hardly human, spoke to the group.
"The Aeryn Snt'nals, translated as the Hawk Brigade here, came to Earth for the sole purpose of defending a growing world from the threat of the Imperial Guard. As you know, our people live on space vessels, our planet lost. This was due to the Shi'ar. We swore to police the galaxy and assure that this would not happen again. That is why.."
Katar opened the symbol on the center of his chest, the clasp that held his bandoliers together. From it he removed a glowing green ring. "That is why I have this."
Namor gasped. All attention turned toward the Atlantean. "It bears the symbol of an ancient relic sacred to my people. You bear 'the light in the darkness'.
Katar put the ring on a finger. "I take it by your question that the Imperial Guard is coming." the Hawk Man stated.
"Then we don't have much time. We must prepare to defend Earth."
Clark turned and faced the Justice League. "All planes are being grounded, homeland security alerts are high. The Earth is being informed as we speak of the threat coming our way."
The Vision was the next to speak. "Detecting an unknown class of star vessel on extreme long range. They'll be in orbit in seventeen minutes."
Clark and the others went to the monitors. "It's them." Katar Hol confirmed.
"Security interlocks release. Authorization code ******." Clark spoke, the last word in Kryptonian. The large viewscreen flashed and the familiar computer voice from the Fortress was heard. "How may I serve you, Kal-el?"
"Hello, computer. Scan the group of lifeforms in my presence. They have approval to interface with you for basic information. Interface with The Vision personally, I need you two working together. Now.. can you scan that vessel and give us an estimate of it's danger to Earth?"
"The vessel is of Shi'ar design. The weapons systems are designed for space combat only. The defenses in place on the satellite are sufficient to withstand it."
"Can you scan the inhabitants on-board the vessel?" Katar Hol asked.
"In addition to 19 crew members, there are five Shi'ar of superhuman power status aboard." the computer explained.
The group exchanged looks. "Only five?" Starfire said, breaking the silence.
"Only five of them were needed to destroy my world." Clark replied.
"Sir, two of the aforementioned superhumans have left the vessel." The computer informed Clark.
"This is it. Get to your defense locations. We must be in constant communication from this point on." Clark stated. Each of them left in teams of two to protect different sectors of the planet. Vision, as always, remained on the station. Al Pratt/Batman left alone.
Superman went to the airlock. In moments he was in space. He headed in the direction of the assailants.
Two people were indeed moving through space. One of them, a woman, passed Superman. The other, however, headed directly for him. This man was purple-skinned, and bore a thick mohawk not unlike a Roman Centurion's helmet crest.
Clark struck the man with a good punch, though he held most of his strength until he knew the man's power level. His opponent, however, did not pull his punch. Superman flew backward toward the satellite before halting himself. That had actually hurt.
Clark smiled. For the first time in a while, he wouldn't have to pull punches with an opponent.
The Vision turned as his sensors detected a Shi'ar female pass through the top of the satellite. She landed on her feet near him, and ran her claws through a support column.
Through. Though intangible, claw marks cut deep into the metal column. The woman, dressed in a fire yellow outfit with red lines down the arms and legs from the hole above her cleavage, approached The Vision. She had no apparent pupils. Her eyes shone white, her face framed by bright red hair.
"Cease your attack upon this structure and surrender." Vision ordered. The woman giggled, continuing a meander toward the synthezoid. When she suddenly lashed out with her claws, Vision himself went intangible.
The noise was soundless in space, but it was a grunt of pain. It came from Clark.
The red and blue flashed as Clark moved around the purple man at super speed. He grasped the man in a half-nelson, but his foe elbowed him with his free arm. They continued to trade punches. His opponent seemed nearly as fast as Clark.
The Shi'ar vessel entered orbit and launched three capsules. Two of these headed toward the middle east, the third toward the Triple Cities: Gotham, Metropolis, New York.
Israel: The first capsule shattered on impact and a huge stone/wood being stretched in the open air. Immediately it plunged it's root-like 'fingers' into the soil. Nearby plant life died in an ever-widening circle.
From the other capsule came a large man in a white costume, trimmed with blue and red. He scanned the terrain around him, eyes hidden behind a red visor. They were just north of Jerusalem. Machine gun fire rang from the hills, having no effect on the tree-creature or the large man.
A tank came over a pass to the south. The large man immediately launched into a sprint, ending in a jump that landed him atop the tank. He ripped open the top of the tank and climbed in.
Several screams later, the man emerged with blood on his blue gloves and boots, splatters across his chest.
Space: The purple man was beating Clark back. After an uppercut that sent him spinning, Clark looked at his world. Earth. He redoubled his efforts.
In a super speed frenzy, Clark struck the purple man repeatedly. Now it was the aggressor's turn to be beaten on. He gave as good as he got, though. Clark found an equal in this opponent.
Satellite: The woman, unable to injure Vision, started in on computer consoles. Vision enacted security procedures, but no energy attack was able to hurt her intangible form. Vision took a gamble. He became solid.
The woman immediately clawed him. On her next pass, Vision was able to catch her hand. On some level it had to be tangible to harm solid objects.
"Surrender or I will injure your hands." Vision threatened. The woman only laughed. She continued to struggle, but Vision had her. He moved her toward the brig, stopping at a stasis pod. "This was constructed to hold me even in my intangible form. You will surrender now or I will put you in stasis."
"I am Astra, of the Imperial Guard. Your world will die. It is you that should surrender, construct. When Gladiator is done with your strong man, he'll tear this place apart!"
With that, both Clark and Gladiator came crashing through the top of the satellite. They didn't stop. Astra, however, had become solid to speak. Exposed to space, she died in an ugly way.
Gotham: Al saw the alien capsule drop toward his city. He became minute and sped toward the object's probable landing point. As he arrived, the capsule let free a female. Blinding light shone from her body, turning night into day.
Batman became normal-sized atop a roof near the woman. He was forced to look away until he could apply the proper lenses to his mask. The woman noticed him. A beam of blue light shot forth from her, burning a hole through the roof where Batman had been.
She wore a solid white costume with black boots and a black cape that was attached to her solid black arms. Her face was yellow. Anyone who had seen all of these attackers would not believe that they were from the same species.
Al/Batman became normal-sized again, this time behind the woman. She seemed to not detect him, but as he fired a net she lowered just in time to avoid it.
"This will do you no good, human. Your planet's time has come." the female's voice sounded noble, though her actions proved otherwise.
Clark and Gladiator continued past the space station, through entry into Earth's atmosphere, which hurt neither of them. Still trading mighty blows, the two crashed into the ground in central Florida. Both ignored their extraordinary journey, continuing to strike each-other.
Clark dropped to one knee after a two-fisted punch, grabbing Gladiator's belt. From it's sealed compartments spilled several small stones, one of which glowed green.
Clark immediately fell onto his back, lacking the strength to stand in the presence of this stone.
Gladiator picked up the green glowing rock, seeing Clark's eyes locked on it. "I collect souvenirs from every world I help to eliminate. Apparently this little rock is hurting you." with that, he squeezed the stone to dust in his hand. "To tell you the truth, I would love to fight you. Good opponents are so hard to come by. However, I'm on a tight schedule."
Gladiator shoved the fragments of the green stone into Clark's mouth. He then flew away.
"Vision to JLA. Top Gun is out of action." the synthezoid said over the multi-com. A moment ago he'd transported Superman directly to the unbreached medical bay. Superman was bleeding profusely from all orifices in his head, including his eyes. His throat was swollen and he could barely breathe.
Israel: Starfire and Raven approached the area where the giant tree creature had interfaced with the Earth. The large man defending him saw the pair and immediately went on the attack.
"Go." Starfire said. Raven teleported from her side as the attacker got within striking distance. Starfire flew upward and fired her starbolts down on the man. He was barely fazed.
Raven emerged from her extra-dimensional travel beside the tree being. She put her hands on it and leaned against it's rough exterior.
"The large man is Smasher. Manta is in the north-east US. This one is called Earthsplitter, if all my translations are correct. They keep contact via mental telepathy. While the purple one, named Gladiator, is immensely strong, Earthsplitter is the most dangerous. He has rooted himself to our planet and has begun the destruction process."
When Raven was done whispering information into the multi-com, she tried to persuade the creature to end his destructiveness. It was then that her eyes opened wide.
"They have an agent among our number! It's.." she was unable to complete her sentence. Earthsplitter had impaled her with several quickly-grown stake branches.
Gotham: Batman could not surprise the woman. She seemed to be able to sense him even in his sub-atomic version.
"Batman, you are needed aboard the satellite. Transport directly to the med bay." Vision stated via Multi-com. Pratt huffed.
"I won't leave my city unprotected." he replied.
"Katar is sending his Hawk Brigade to the triple cities. Please come immediately."
Al Pratt fled the battle and went to the transport coordinates.
JLA Satellite: Vision was doing his best to evacuate all dust particles out of Superman's mouth, but he didn't dare approach the swollen throat area. Kal-el had stopped breathing a few seconds ago.
"I'm here. What was so..oh my God." Pratt stopped complaining the moment he saw Superman.
"Get in his throat. Remove all of the particles you find. It's Kryptonite, the computer tells me. It's killing him."
Pratt shrank down immediately and did as told.
Israel: Smasher had taken several hits from Starfire and still stood. The hero was getting frustrated. She knew she could not match Smasher in strength.
A large, purple streak approached from the north-west. It struck Starfire with such force that it shattered many of the bones in her body. Princess Koriand'r hit the ground hard.
"jay...ell..ay.. we fff..failed in israe.." Kory had managed to summon the strength to warn the others of her and Raven's loss. This ended when Gladiator crushed her head beneath his boot.
Four more capsules sped toward Earth, this time from a second starship entering orbit. One rocketed toward the southern U.S. and the other three for Asia.
Texas: "Careful, pretty bird." Ollie warned as he and Black Canary approached the crash site of a Shi'ar capsule. In the wreckage stood a woman with yellowish-orange skin, dressed in a white bodysuit. Her feet ended with a set of claws and were more like goat's feet. She stood on the balls of her feet. In her hands were a pair of energy whips.
Ollie notched an arrow and let it fire. The female swung around and lashed out with a whip, striking the arrow in mid-air and breaking it in two. It dropped harmlessly. Canary extended her battle staves and charged the woman, ducking one whip, leaping over another. In mid flip she bashed the woman in the head with a staff, knocking her off-balance.
Ollie fired a net arrow, but their opponent was ready. The energy whip sliced through the net and it flew past her on each side. Canary charged at her again.
"No you don't." the alien woman hissed. A whip swung at Black Canary and cut her midsection.
"DINAH!" Ollie yelled.
"I'm ok, Ollie. she just grazed me."
Green Arrow fired another arrow. Their opponent swung out to destroy it. When she did, she set off the explosive which knocked her off her feet. Dinah was ready. She swung a staff like a baseball bat and knocked the woman unconscious.
JLA Satellite: Vision and Batman worked frantically to save the life of Superman. The inside of his mouth and throat had been covered with thousands of kryptonite dust particles.
"This is the last one I see in here." Batman said, flying out of Clark's mouth and returning to normal size. He was covered with the Kryptonian's blood.
"We cannot take the chance of missing a piece. I will initiate a spectrum scan, with the help of the Kryptonian computer." Vision stated. Several shades of visible and non-visible light shone over Superman's med table. His face shone with several illuminated spots. Vision quickly cleansed Superman's face and uniform.
Clark opened his eyes.
Israel: As Gladiator left, another person appeared at the site of the battle. I am called Sabra. You are trespassing on Israeli land." she stated, staring down Smasher. The Shi'ar laughed and charged her. Sabra did the same.
The Israeli and the alien immediately began exchanging blows. Smasher struck her in the midsection, but the tenacious woman punched him in the face. A distinct crack was heard as she impacted his nose. Dark green blood trickled down Smasher's face.
Japan: Sunfire and Dr. Light fought valiantly to defend Tokyo, but the new arrivals were incredibly powerful. The one in the full-body purple uniform siphoned in every blast from the heroes, returning it in the form of destructive energy from the large visor over most of his face. The other had skin like the blackness of space, complete with stars and stellar phenomena flashing across his exterior. With every attack, he grew bigger, stronger.
'Now, Impulse. The male is weakening.' the third assailant mindspoke. She had not engaged in battle, but appeared to be coordinating the attacks of the others.
A blast from Impulse's visor knocked Sunfire from the sky. Dr. Light retreated, too wounded to continue fighting.
Japan was theirs.
JLA Satellite: Batman whirled around to face Green Arrow, Black Canary, and an unconscious woman in a net.
"Why'd we beam to med? We were headin' for the brig." Ollie said, slightly perturbed.
"That area of the satellite is exposed to space. Auto-repair will complete in three minutes." Vision replied.
Clark sat up on the med bed, coughing. He still felt pretty horrible, but he was getting better every minute. "What happened?" he asked.
Again, it was Vision who answered. "Kryptonite."
"Kryptonite? I remember Gladiator having a small stone.."
"That stone was a fragment of your birth planet, after it had been rendered toxic by the Shi'ar. Apparently it is deadly to you even here."
"Apparently, Gladiator forced you to ingest the kryptonite. You were clinically dead for seven minutes. Batman and I managed to remove the particles."
Clark looked at Al. "I was wondering why you were such a mess." he said with a sheepish smile.
It was going to be ok.
"Hawk Brigadier Zebul to Vision. The one named Manta has been contained." the multi-com echoed. Superman stood. "We'd better get back to work. Somebody update me."
Japan: "Impulse, Quasar. You did well." Gladiator said, landing in their midst. He smiled at the female. "Oracle. Your psi-web keeps us all in constant contact. You are essential to our success against the so-called defenders of this planet."
"Commander!" Quasar exclaimed. He pointed toward the east. Two forms approached.
"I'll take the purple one." Katar Hol said.
"Whatever you say, Hawk Man. Namor replied, flying so close to the ocean that it parted around him, heaving up mists that hydrated him. The coolness of the ocean was invigorating.
Israel: Smasher reeled as Sabra struck him again. "When I'm done with you, I'll rip that tree-man out of the ground!" she grunted, striking him again.
The ground softened beneath her. Sabra's legs were held fast by the now-solid Earth before she could fly to safety. Smasher backhanded her.
"Now we will see who is done with who, human!"
Japan: Katar Hol knew he was no match in strength for Gladiator. Instead of charging into close combat, he used his power ring to create a gigantic mace, which he used to smash the purple alien into the ground. Gladiator stood, unfazed, and flew at the Hawk Brigadier.
Namor landed and exchanged punches with Quasar. Impulse fired several blasts at the Atlantean, all of which missed.
"Your time has come, Thanagarian!" Gladiator yelled, moving toward Katar at incredible speed. Gladiator instead collided with a wall of green.
Katar formed a layer of armor around himself with the power ring. When Gladiator finally did reach him, he had to contend with emerald swords, slicing the air around him.
All myth of Katar overcoming Gladiator dissolved when the emerald swords were unable to pierce even his costume. Gladiator drove a fist completely through the Thanagarian and let him fall into the ocean.
Namor, upon seeing Katar fall, dove into the waves. His body cut through the water with almost no effort, and he had the Hawk Brigadier in seconds. He brought him up to breathe. Amazingly, he was still alive.
"Quickly, give me the ring! I might have a chance against him!" Namor pleaded. Katar, groaning, slid the power ring from his finger and placed it in Namor's hand.
The Atlantean tossed him aside like so much trash. He rose out of the water, ring on his finger. "Brothers, I have it!" he exclaimed to the Shi'ar.
JLA Satellite: Batman left the room before he did something he'd regret. "Raven, Starfire, now Katar's life signs have disappeared from our sensors. We are losing team members and friends!" Clark said, enraged. Hussar, the Shi'ar that had used the whips, ignored him. They were in an interrogation room in the brig.
"Give her her weapons back." Clark ordered. Ollie gave him a surprised glance. Dinah sat the whips on a table, then she and Green Arrow stepped out of the room.
Hussar grabbed her whips and lashed out at Superman, who leaned nonchalantly against a wall. She repeated the attack, growing more flustered. Clark finally used his heat vision to slice through the weapons.
"I AM NOT PLAYING HERE! THREE OF MY TEAM ARE DEAD!" Clark finally screamed, grabbing Hussar and shoving her against a wall. "Now.. you will tell me about your Imperial Guard. Names, powers, everything."
Israel: Smasher struck Sabra again. Her feet were trapped in the ground, a trick by Earthsplitter. She swung back, but he dodged.
"You, like all humans, will die." Smasher taunted her, swinging at her again. She had already tasted her own blood.
Instead of swinging at Smasher again, Sabra plunged her hands into the ground near her feet. She ripped up two large hunks of earth, freeing her feet. She now redoubled her efforts in destroying her opponent.
"You were saying?"
Japan: "Impulse, fly Quasar to Earthsplitter's location and support Smasher. Oracle says that he is losing his battle against the human female." Gladiator ordered. He and Namor remained with Oracle, the group's coordinator.
"Hussar is informing the enemy of everything! She's on the space station, being interrogated!" Oracle cried. Namor smiled and clasped Gladiator's hand.
"I will take care of this." the 'Atlantean' said.
JLA Satellite: Namor beamed up to the satellite and found the main area empty. Now that he was psi-linked to his Shi'ar brothers and sisters, he knew directly where to go. Hussar was telling all, there was no time for subterfuge. Eventually she would reveal that Namor had been a sleeper agent.
Green Arrow and Black Canary came down a hall and headed toward the meeting room, lunch trays in hand. When they saw Namor, Ollie nodded in his direction.
"Would you like to join us for lunch?" Dinah asked. Namor shook his head and went down the corridor.
"Namor has just transported aboard." Vision said. When Hussar began telling them everything, he had been called in to record it all. The instant Vision mentioned the Atlantean, Hussar leaned back in her chair and a wide grin appeared on her face. "I'm done talking." she said.
The door to the interrogation room bulged inward. Vision opened it, and Al Pratt fell in. He was not moving. Namor stepped over him and swung out with the back of his hand, severing Vision's head from it's body.
"Traitor!" Clark roared, leaping over the table. As he collided with Namor the two flew into the hallway.
"I was never on your side, fool!" Namor retorted, trading monstrous punches with the Kryptonian.
Japan: "Send down team three." Gladiator ordered. Four more capsules emerged, this time from a third vessel in orbit. By staggering their teams, they never showed their true numbers. They had not needed team three, however, since they conquered the planet Tamaran. They had been a race of golden-skinned warriors, not unlike the one he finished at Earthsplitter's landing site.
Israel: Sabra delivered one final punch to the skull of Smasher, shattering it. The Israeli heroine cast the Shi'ar aside and started toward Earthsplitter.
"You will not disturb our brother." came a cold, stern voice. Sabra looked up to see a man in a purple uniform drop a man with star patterns on his body. It was the latter who had spoken.
"Sorry we're late." came a voice from the south. It was Vance Astrovik: Victory. With him was Kitty Pryde. Sabra smiled when she saw her friends and team-mates among the Israeli Super Soldiers.
"That's ok. Let's show these trespassers the error of trespassing in the Chosen Land."
JLA Satellite: Superman slid across the sheer floor and stopped near the meeting room. Ollie and Dinah forgot their food and jumped immediately into action, expecting more Shi'ar attackers. Instead it was Namor that rounded the corner.
"Stay out of this! I don't want you two getting hurt!" Clark ordered, flying back at the clearly injured Namor. His fists collided with the Shi'ar's jaw, spinning Namor around and sending him to his knees. Blood dripped from his face.
"Don't make me kill you, Namor." Clark half-whispered. Namor chuckled, then laughed. "Kryptonian, you are too powerful for me. Thus I call my brother."
"Ollie, Dinah, get off the station NOW!" Clark yelled. The couple did not question, they only ran for the transport platform, then were gone.
Kansas: Two Shi'ar capsules had touched down. Barry and Reed were en-route.
"I hypothesize that there are five more members of this group, other than the ones that have already landed. It would seem.."
"Reed, please. I know you're uncomfortable wrapped around me while I'm running, but I need to concentrate." Barry chided his friend. Reed had not been able to reach his Fantasticar before they had to respond to this threat.
"Vision, what information do we have on these jokers?" Reed asked over the multi-com. He was feeling queasy, dragged along by Barry past his usual tolerance. Even with the unstable molecules it was rough going.
Vision did not respond.
JLA Satellite: Just as Ollie and Dinah left, Gladiator came crashing up through the bottom of the satellite. Namor, with his incredible constitution, managed to transport down to Earth before the exposure to space could kill him.
"So you survived, Kryptonian. We will remedy that now." Gladiator said coldly. Clark threw a punch that connected with the purple Shi'ar's chin, but he had little effect.
"My gloves and arms are still coated with the dust from your planet. You'll find your strength wanting."
Gladiator sucker punched Superman in the gut and brought his other fist up into Clark's face. Superman was knocked back against a wall. He felt blood trickling from the edge of his mouth.
"You will fall, Kryptonian, then will this world."
Israel: Impulse was displeased when he discovered that the young woman he was trying to kill was intangible. His energy could not harm one with this ability, as many training sessions with Astra had proved.
Quasar and Sabra traded blows. Quasar was every bit as strong as Smasher, and unbeknownst to Sabra, every attack against him made him stronger. He finally bludgeoned her in the head and she fell, momentarily dazed.
Victory, Vance Astrovik, surrounded Quasar with a teke force field. Every time he struck the bubble, it absorbed his energy. The Shi'ar powerhouse finally passed out from lack of oxygen.
New York: Ollie turned on the rooftop where he and his wife stood. Namor stood with them.
"Dinah, run." Ollie said, notching an arrow. Namor flew across the rooftop in a moment and lifted the archer. As Dinah watched helplessly, Namor tossed Ollie off of the roof.
This was not a normal woman's scream. This was not even a sonic cry. This was pure destructive energy, which shook every building in New York. People all over town were convinced that it was an earthquake, but it was the incredible power of Dinah's scream. She dared not use it before and she dared not use it for long. It could bring the city down.
Namor dropped to his knees. As he gripped his ears, he felt blood run between his fingers. His head ached, the pain indescribable. At last he passed out.
Dinah activated his transport frequency, sending him back to the satellite.
Kansas: There were two foes wreaking havok on the farmlands. Barry slowed, allowing Reed to dis-attach from him. The first Shi'ar was a giant that seemed to be composed of living energy. It burned everything within miles. Reed ballooned himself and floated up and over the creature.
The second was a woman. She pointed to Flash and he fell at super speed. Barry stifled a scream as he felt his right ankle break. His costume was badly torn and he was covered with s####es by the time he stopped.
JLA Satellite: Gladiator smashed Superman again with his fists. Clark was on his knees. Every time he started to stand, Gladiator struck him down.
"You won't win." Clark said. Gladiator laughed heartily. He lifted the Kryptonian by his cape and tossed him back against the wall.
"We're the Shi'ar. We ALWAYS win!" Gladiator gloated.
Clark flew at Gladiator at super speed, grabbing him at the waist. He flew through the side of the satellite and directly toward the sun as fast as he could go. Gladiator slammed into his back repeatedly, but soon Clark had plunged into the sun with Gladiator in tow.
Inconceivably, Gladiator was not killed. Clark was momentarily stunned at the resilience of his foe. Then he punched Gladiator and sent him millions of miles away. The sun had burned the kryptonite dust away, and the Real Steel Deal was back in business."
Hussar had tried to escape from the brig area of the satellite for a while, but something had sealed the doors. With her whips gone, her usefulness to the Guard in this mission would be lessened. She had to do something.
Namor appeared in the interrogation room. Apparently it had been set as the safe secondary teleport area. He strode out into the corridor, noticing that he could not hear his footsteps. He could not hear anything. Curse that Earth woman!
Hussar turned just in time to see Namor approach. She spoke to him, but he showed no reaction. "You betrayed the Guard. You gave them information about us." he said..too loud.
There was no getting away for Hussar. Namor grasped her at the throat and began strangling her.
Then a hand materialized through his head.
Kansas: Reed Richards successfully extended himself to the point where he was able to contain the giant fire beast. He wrapped his elastic form completely around the attacker, struggling to contain the very angry alien. Eventually, it stopped fighting. Reed waited a while longer before opening up. All that remained of the monster was a pile of cinder.
Barry was in incredible pain. He had NEVER fallen at super speed, and this break meant that he might never run again. All he could do was watch as the woman who had done this to him approached.
When she was before him, Barry began spinning his arm to create a vortex. She pointed again, and he wrenched a muscle in his arm. He was helpless before her.
"You die, human." the woman said. She pointed again and the blacktop opened up beneath him. Barry screamed, but it was cut short as the ground closed again, burying the hero alive.
"Where is my friend!?" Reed Richards exclaimed angrily, approaching the alien woman. As she raised a hand to point at him he stretched out and pinned her arms to her sides. When she was contained, he teleported to the satellite.
Japan: Oracle contacted everyone using the psi-web. Everyone except Gladiator, who was out of her range.
'Send the final team. Everyone fall back to Earthsplitter's location. He must not fall.'
Oracle, however, was stranded in Japan. She lacked the ability to fly, and had sent the others away.
"Did you think I wouldn't come back, monster?" Dr. Light said. She was seriously injured, but one of the foremost defenders of Japan was going to have her revenge.
'listen to me. You don't want to hurt me' Oracle mindspoke.
"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" Dr. Light screamed, launching a blast with the destructive intensity of a small star. It was the last of her power, and she died, but she took Oracle with her.
The Psi-web collapsed.
Israel: Just as the Israeli Super Soldiers had finished with Impulse, more Shi'ar appeared. This pair was size-related-one was a giant and the other the size of a cat.
"This will be easy." Kitty said.
"Never underestimate any opponent." Sabra chided. She flew at the giant, delivering a mighty punch. He went down fast. Victory contained the little one.
"Ok.." Sabra said with a smile. "That WAS easy."
Five more capsules launched from the final ship to enter Earth orbit. The last line of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard was coming.
In the mountains and valleys of the world, people were getting sick and dying. Crops were failing. Vegetation was rotting. Earthsplitter was succeeding..Earth was being rendered toxic.
There was precious little time left.
JLA Satellite: Vision removed the green ring from the hand of a very dead Namor. He slipped it onto his finger. "In his arrogance, he forgot to use it's power." the synthezoid said.
Al Pratt, just recovering from unconsciousness, approached his teammate. Hussar was backed against the sealed door to the main area, trembling.
"Y-you..I saw him cut your head off!" she stammered.
"Apparently he was not aware of my self repair capabilities." Vision replied.
Putrid yellow tears dripped down from the outer edges of Hussar's eyes. "If you'll protect me..I'll tell you everything I know."
New York: Dinah wept. Ollie, her husband, had been tossed over the edge of the building. He was one of a kind, and he always treated her like an equal. She had lost the love of her life.
"Dinah! A little help here?"
Black Canary ran to the building's edge. There was a rope arrow grappled around a flagpole, and holding on for dear life to the other end was Ollie. Her tears became those of joy as she extended a battle staff and lowered it. He climbed up onto the roof. After a long, passionate kiss, the pair transported to the Satellite.
Israel: Sabra had tried to destroy one of the five capsules as they approached the battle scene, but the exterior was unbreakable. When they landed they burst apart and five forms stood in their midst. Nightside, take their sight." a shriveled green man ordered. A blue-skinned woman with a scant costume took to the sky.
The heroes found themselves in a shroud of darkness, unable to see. Victory immediately raised a telekinetic force field for protection.
"Kitty? Where are you?" Vance called out.
"I can't phase. Put your field around me too." he heard her voice nearby.
Vance surrounded them both in the shield. Immediately he came under intensive mental attack and was unable to maintain the defense any longer. As soon as it dropped, something pounced onto him, knocking him down and ripping his throat open.
Space: A mighty battle took place among the stars. The paramount of might for one world and his opposite number from another were shaking worlds with mighty blows. Gladiator would strike Superman, sending him tumbling back toward Earth. Superman would lash out, knocking Gladiator for a distance.
Superman finally got a hold of Gladiator's mohawk. He took advantage of the situation to pummel the alien in the face repeatedly. Gladiator finally struck Superman in the ribs hard enough to break his grip, but Superman came away with a handful of hair.
JLA Satellite: After listening to Hussar, Vision confined her to a cell and joined Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Reed Richards on the transport platform.
"They will make their final stand in Israel, protecting the planet killer. The Hawk Brigade will be there soon, and I've confirmed that some of the Israeli Super Soldiers are there. You'll recognize them from the summit meeting last year."
Vision moved to the computer bank. "I will keep you apprised of the situation from here. Dr. Richards has a monitor minicam on his uniform."
Israel: The team of four heroes lost their sight a moment after materializing in Israel. Batman micro-sized and flew far upward. He discovered when he looked down that he could see everything clearly.
"OLLIE! Explosive arrow at 2:00!" Batman yelled over the multi-com. The emerald archer turned, pulled, and fired. Batman watched a fanged and clawed man-beast fall back, smoke rising from it's fur.
Al dove downward at a blue-skinned woman who was approaching Sabra of the ISS. as he got closer he grew, and finally tackled her to the ground, rendering her unconscious. The 'nightfall' went away and the heroes could see.
A small, green alien turned to his team. "Tempest, empower Electron."
One of the two men in an orange uniform raised his arms to the sky. He then pointed both hands at the other man, and hit him with a concentrated stream of electrical energy. This man grew and transformed, becoming more energy than solid. This living lightning charged at Green Arrow and consumed him.
Oliver Queen had never been afraid to speak his mind or share his opinions. There were none like him, and some found him brash. Some also found his honesty comfortable, and he was intensely loyal.
No arrow was going to save him from this fate. The hero died.
Israel: After killing Green Arrow, the energy beast that was Electron turned toward the other heroes. Sabra immediately launched into the fight, but she couldn't touch the creature without getting shocked.
It was Al Pratt that noticed that Electron was getting slightly smaller. Tempest fired an electrical blast at him regularly, and Batman immediately picked up the connection. He micro-sized and sped at Tempest, then grew and delivered a knockout punch.
"Fang, get up!" the little green man ordered. Though his fur was still smoking, the man-beast crouched. He pounced suddenly at Dinah, but ended up going through the woman. Kitty had grabbed her hand just in time. Sabra grabbed the creature and flung it for a good distance, then flew after it.
Electron was getting rapidly weaker now. Reed Richards expanded and surrounded the creature, his uniform of unstable molecules providing adequate protection from the shocking touch.
The shriveled, green Shi'ar was all that remained. As the heroes approached, they fell under a mental attack. From Mentor's mouth they heard the voices of friends and family berating them. He was mimicking voices taken from their thoughts! Kitty realized that this was how Vance had been killed. She fought the mental attack and kicked Mentor. Having no physical durability at all, the Shi'ar was rendered unconscious.
JLA Satellite: Vision watched his monitors. The last of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard had fallen, except for Gladiator who still battled Superman. He was about to tell the others to finish Earthsplitter when he noticed a rather large capsule, several times larger and higher than the others, launch from the last space vessel. It headed directly toward Israel.
"Team, we have another capsule heading your way. Please be aware that it is the largest yet." Vision warned the earthside Justice League. Superman's multi-com had been destroyed at some point during the fight with Gladiator. That was not good, for Vision surmised that their leader was soon going to be desperately needed.