The Apokolips Agenda

 Part 20

 by DarkMark

“Conquered?” said Kara.

“Get in here,” said Captain Atom, pulling a door open, “and we’ll talk about it.”

“What is this, anyway?” said Superboy, his eyes widening.  “How do you conquer a planet?  How can you do that?”

“Kal,” Kara said, “Get in.”

He obeyed.  Beautiful Dreamer and Harbinger, giving each other an uneasy look, followed suit.  The nuclear warrior rolled the door shut behind them on its tracks and locked it, then held up his hand and sprayed it with sparkles.  “My form of alarm system,” he said.

The interior was as dark as the set of a Forties detective movie.  Chambers which had served as offices were dark, cobweb-ridden.  Captain Atom was careful to lead the way, and Supergirl, checking with her vision powers, could tell that he was allowing them to pass through several more “alarm systems” of his creation.

Nonetheless, when he opened one last door, a buzzing blue gun was stuck in his face.  It was quickly withdrawn when the holder saw who was standing there.  “Evening, Nat,” said the masked man who held it.

“Ted,” said Atom.  “We may have found some help.”

Supergirl, Superboy, D’reema, and Harbinger cautiously entered.  The chamber within, converted from the slaughterhouse and meat-packing establishment that this place had been, was a bit better-lit.  A long table dominated the room, probably taken from an executive office.  People in costumes sat about it, each of them regarding the newcomers.

One of them wore a blue business suit and did not appear to have a face.  Another, a woman in a dark blue mini-skirted outfit with a mask that had grilles over her eyes, relaxed a bit when she recognized Supergirl and Harbinger.  The third was an athletic-looking man in a black eye-mask and a red-and-blue outfit divided half-and-half down the middle of his chest.  A fourth was the most powerful-looking of all, dressed in the armor of a Greek soldier of old, with a huge curved shield leaning against the wall behind him.  Three others, two men and a woman, were dressed in blue and red uniforms almost identical to each other.

“Well, Cap,” said the masked girl, “looks like you’ve brought us some help.  Who are they?”

“Harbinger and Supergirl I’ve already met,” said the man who had met them at the door.  “It was in the Crisis.  Glad to see you’re around.”

“You too, Blue Beetle,” said Kara.  “Can somebody do the introductions for us?”

“I sure as heck hope they can,” said Superboy.  “More people out of comic books.  This is literally too much.  No offense, folks.”

The blonde in the tiara shot him a look.  “Speak for yourself, Blue Boy.”

Captain Atom said, “The gunshots we heard were directed against these people.  Evidently it was a good idea for me to investigate.  As Blue Beetle said, we know two of them from the Crisis.  If you four would introduce yourselves to us, we’ll do the same.”

“You’re certain they’re all with us?” said the faceless one.

“I fought side-by-side with two of them,” said Captain Atom.  “I saw her almost die, fighting the Anti-Monitor.  That’s credit enough with me.”

“I’ve never met any of ‘em,” said one of the three in the blue and red uniforms, a big, brown-haired male who looked like a pro football player.  “Then again, we didn’t even get tapped for the Crisis.  So that don’t mean anything.”

“That’s fine, Brute,” said the man in the half-and-half suit.  “Okay, folks, if you please.”

Harbinger said, “My name is Harbinger, though I was born as Lyla.  The Captain and the Beetle both know me from our work together in the Crisis.  I was the aide of the Monitor in his crusade against the Enemy.  Now, all the worlds in this primary system are linked in another peril, and we had decided to make a short jump here to check conditions on your Earth.  I am glad to have done so.”

“If only thou hadst appeared earlier,” said the man in armor.  “Still, it is past.”

Beautiful Dreamer looked at the others of her party, then took a step forward.  “My name is D’reema, but most Earth people know me as Beautiful Dreamer.  In my home universe, that is.  I am from the world of New Genesis, and my family group was involved in the crusade against Darkseid in times past, and now in the present.  I am honored to meet you.”

Supergirl drew a breath.  “Okay, I’m Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, formerly of Argo City.  I am a Kryptonian, like my cousin Superman.  I’m from what we call the Earth-One universe, and I’m involved in this present fight against Darkseid, plus being bodyguard for the other two ladies here, no offense.  Like they said, Cap Atom and Blue Beetle have met me.  Now, Kal, go ahead.”

The teenager in the famous costume swallowed once, felt like he was being called on to recite before class, and finally began.  “My name is...well, I guess my name in this circumstance is Superboy.  I’m kind of from the planet Earth, but I was born on Krypton.  I just found that out a day ago.  These ladies just dropped into my Earth and told me...told me a lot.  Maybe more than I wanted to hear.  I figured that I might be needed in this war, if that’s what it is.  I’m pretty new at this, and you’ll have to excuse me for my, uh, being kind of green.”

Cap Atom, surprisingly, gave him a fatherly smile.  “It’s all right, son,” he said. “Nobody’s born knowing how to be a super-hero.”

“Amen to that,” said the black-haired one of the Uniform Triplets. “I’m still not sure that I know.”

“Having said that,” Captain Atom continued, “I’ll follow suit, for those two of you who don’t know me.  My name is Captain Atom, born Nathaniel Chistopher Adam.  I got this way from taking an unscheduled and unexpected flight in a nuclear-powered rocket that got triggered prematurely.  It blew up, and so did I.  But I was able to reintegrate my atomic structure on Earth, and found out I had nuke-based powers.  That’s it for me.  How about you, Nightshade?”

The girl in the grille-mask clasped her hands together on the table.  “Okay.  As he said, my name is Nightshade.  I know judo, I can transform myself into a living shadow, and I’m the daughter of a man from this Earth and a woman from another dimension.  On to you, Beetle.”

The Beetle said, “Hi to both of you who don’t know me.  I’m the Blue Beetle.  No fancy powers like the Captain or Nightshade, just two fists and a load of gimmicks.  So far, they’ve been enough, until this present situation.  I took over from another Blue Beetle after his death.  I recently acquired his power scarab, but I haven’t been able to make it work.  And yeah, I worked together with Harbinger and Supergirl here, plus a lot of other heroes, in the Crisis.  I hope you can help us in ours.”

“We’ll try,” promised Kara.

“I am the Question,” said the business-suited man in the faceless mask, and left it at that.

“Call me the Son of Vulcan,” said the one in the Greek armor.  “I was but a mortal man, until I did issue a challenge to the gods of Mount Olympus.  Zeus did allow Vulcan to adopt me as his own, and give me the power of an Olympian.   Regretfully, I did not participate in your Crisis.  If there is a crusade beyond this one, an you aid us in liberating our world, I will join with you to make up for mine error.”

Supergirl found herself a bit impressed.  She’d met Hercules once, on one of Superman’s cases, and Dev had told her that they’d taken her near-lifeless body to the Olympus of Earth-S to be cured by Apollo, but her contact with Earthian “gods” had been very brief.  If this guy entered the ranks against Darkseid, he might be of great help.

Then again, he apparently hadn’t been able to defeat what was oppressing their world.

The blonde masked man in the uniform of which Kara thought Two-Face would have approved spoke next.  “You may call me Thunderbolt, in this identity,” he said. “Because of my parents’ efforts to save Tibetian monks from a plague–efforts which, by the way, caused their deaths–I was allowed, from childhood on, to study the monks’ ancient scrolls and be trained by them as the One.  I learned how to harness the untapped power of my brain and body.  I could wish for more peaceful uses for it.  But the world doesn’t seem to offer much hope of that.”

“Well, I guess that leaves us,” said the black-haired man of the blue-and-red-clad threesome.  “The three of us are the Sentinels.  We get our powers from devices a scientist left to us before he passed on.  I’m Helio, and in my case, the device is a flying belt.  You next, Cindy.”

“I’m Mentalia,” said the blonde woman in the tiara.  “This headgear here gives me telepathic powers, plus some TK and such.  Hi.  Nice meeting you, and like the others have said, I hope you can help us.”

The big guy next to her said, “You can call me Brute.  These gloves I’m wearing power me up, give me super-strength.  We didn’t exactly have a long stint as super-heroes.  Hell, we were retired for a long time.  But when this thing hit the world, we couldn’t stay retired.”

“And that is the membership of our group,” said Captain Atom.  “Which, by the way, we call Justice Force.  Now, let me tell you about the situation.”

Kara crossed her arms and listened.

“Seven days ago, we–our world–was attacked by an army of super-beings,” Atom continued.  “Some of them were from our Earth.  Some of them, I think, were from yours.  They were under the direction of a man named Eclipso.”

“Eclipso,” said Kara.  “So that’s why the sky is darkened. I should have guessed.”

“I know of him, too,” said Harbinger.  “He’s an apt choice for Darkseid’s underboss.  Powerful and ruthless.”

“So you do know of him,” remarked the Question.  “Doesn’t surprise me.”

“How is it,” said Superboy, “uh, excuse me for asking.  But since you’re super-heroes, how is it that they were able to, kind of, overcome you?”

Clark knew that was wrong as soon as he got looks from at least two of them that said, “You moron.”

“Son, except for the Captain, the Son of Vulcan, and the Sentinels here, we’re without super-powers per se,” explained the Blue Beetle.  “We could hold our own well against the Dark Brigade.  It was the reinforcements we had problems with.”

“Don’t put Kal here down,” said Supergirl.  “He may be inexperienced, but I guarantee you that when the action starts going, he’ll be somebody you’ll be proud to have by your side.”

D’reema saw the way Superboy looked at his cross-dimensional cousin and was very proud of her at that moment.

“I’m sorry, kid,” said the Beetle, and offered his hand.  Superboy took it and shook.  “We’re not in our best frame of mind lately.”

“No problem, man,” Clark replied, and slapped the Beetle’s shoulder a trifle too hard.  The hero winced and stooped a bit.

“Watch it, kid,” said the Beetle.  “You’re strong.”

“Sorry,” said Superboy.

“Tell me, though,” said D’reema.  “How could even a team of powerful villains conquer the entire planet so quickly?  Unless they had the legions of Apokolips behind them, I hardly see how they could have managed it.”

Thunderbolt answered her.  “It’s that mind-machine of Eclipso’s.  What we know is that, shortly after they entered our space, he set up and activated a contraption that dampened the free will of the population.  Within a day, as far as we can tell, it spread across the planet.  He just suggested they give him dominion of the world, in the name of ‘Darkseid’.  That is the name you folks threw out a few moments ago, correct?”

“That’s him,” said Supergirl.

“How did you escape his influence?” asked Harbinger.

Mentalia said, “A little combination of my powers and Cap’s.  He amped my tiara a bit with his energy.  It’s enough to cover us, and a couple more, but we can’t extend it a lot further.  Encouraging that you four haven’t fallen under.”

“Kal and I are Krypts,” Kara said.  “We’re probably invulnerable to it.  D’reema here is an outworlder, and Harbinger is Harbinger.”

Nightshade’s hands came down flat on the table.  “You’re immune to it?”


“Then you can destroy it!”

“Maybe,” Kara repeated.  “Give us a rundown on the bad guys you faced.”  Then she stopped, without warning, and looked towards the door. “Kal,” she said.  “Tell me what you hear.”

“I take it you’re not talking about the conversation,” said Superboy, and activated his super-hearing.

The rest of the group got up from their chairs.  Captain Atom raised a hand, and, Kara guessed, shot an invisible stream of energy towards the alarm system he had created.  As he did so, his other fist clenched.

“We’re being approached,” Superboy said.  “I’m using my X-ray vision now.  They’re trying to make a covert strike, but I see them.”

“So do I,” said Kara.  “Remember, Kal: hype your hearing a tad at all times in an unfamiliar situation.”

The Question said, “So they tracked the Captain here by his light trail.  Let’s hope they weren’t expecting you four.”

“Expected or not,” said Harbinger, “it’s time we lent you a hand.”

The Son of Vulcan said, “They anticipate bringing battle to us.  Let us, instead, bring it to them.”

“As little as I like battles, there are some that must be fought,” agreed Thunderbolt.  “And this is one of them.  Okay, Justice them!”

Superboy saw Supergirl charging straight at the wall of the room and  Captain Atom following her lead.  He figured it was therefore the best thing to do.  With them, he crashed through the wall and the ones beyond.  That left a path of attack for the others, one not quite anticipated by the villains they faced.

They brushed the stone dust, wood fragments, and metal shards off their bodies as they charged.

Clark had no idea who they were facing.  Supergirl hadn’t much more of an idea, especially with the Earth-4 baddies.  But sometimes the best plan is to wade in with both fists flying, and that’s what both of them did.

The villains included Tokamak, an atomic-powered enemy of Firestorm’s; Multiplex, Bolt, Mindboggler, Slipknot, and Hyena, all of whom had fought Blue Devil and Firestorm at one time or another; the Fiery-Icer, Dr. Spectro, Punch, Jewelee, the Banshee, and the Madman, all of them native to the world of Earth-4; plus Felix Faust, an Earth-1 sorceror and foe of the Justice League, who looked as though he didn’t want to be there and looked even more so when he saw the two Superpeople.

“Hello, Felix,” said Kara, and leaped over the clot of villains to zero in on him.  He was the only magician she knew of, and, therefore, the only threat to herself she could confirm.

Faust said, “Oh, my.  N’gurrthah sebling flexis...”

While he was still formulating the spell, he caught Supergirl’s knuckles with his chin and went flying backwards.

Superboy made for Tokamak.  One part of his mind was in awe, astonished that he should be fighting a comic-book super-villain.  Another part was feeding low-level fear (What can this joker do to me?  I’ve never fought anything bigger than a local crook yet!).  The driver’s seat portion of his mind sent him forward, and the armored figure lifted a hand and blasted him onto his back with a nuclear burst.

Kal was surprised as he picked himself up.  He could smell the ionized air from the burst, felt the heat on his chest, knew that he should be harmed, by all rational standards.  But he wasn’t.

He was a Superboy.

“Okay,” he said to himself, and sprang upward and forwards at Tokamak.  His opponent swore and unleashed blinding bursts into his face.  It didn’t seem to matter.  He grabbed the villain’s chest plate with both hands, exerted his strength, and tore it off.  Then he cast the pieces aside.  Tokamak’s gloves sputtered with dying sparks.

Dr. Spectro’s hands were outthrust, blasting the heroes with blue rays from the gem-banded wristlets he wore.  They had the effect of producing depression among the heroes, causing the likes of Nightshade, the Beetle, Helio, and D’reema to stand slackly, prey for their attackers.  The effect didn’t last long.  Captain Atom flew into his old foe, smashing at him, cutting off his blue beams and restoring his comrades to normalcy.  Spectro, as powerful as Atom, slugged the hero back and blasted him with a heat ray.  The battle was joined.

The Fiery-Icer tried encasing the Son of Vulcan in a huge cake of ice from the cold-projectors on his wrist, but without Felix Faust, who had defeated the Son in their earlier encounter, it was a doomed effort.  The Man of Might simply expanded his muscles and cracked the ice to pieces.  His shield deflected the subsequent burst of flame.  A few seconds after that, the Son of Vulcan grabbed his foe by the shirtfront, slammed him into a wall, and rendered him unconscious.  He stripped the villain’s temperature gloves off and crushed them.  Then he smiled.

For the first time in a week, he began to actually think that they could win.

Supergirl wondered if she should help the others with their fights, and decided to hang back and see how the Earth-4 crew performed.  It would be a psychological boost to the Justice Forcers if they could tackle their enemies themselves, and win.  She suspected that the mind-dampening forces of Eclipso’s were only partly thwarted by Mentalia.  So, when Superboy was about to charge in after another foe, she caught him by the shoulder.  “Wait up, Kal,” she said.  “Let’s see how they do on their own.”

“But, Kara–“

“Trust me on this.  Just for once.  Okay?”

“Okay,” he said, sighing.  “I sure as heck hope you know what you’re doing.”

“So do I, chum,” she said.  “So do I.”

Jewelee was tangling with her nemesis, Nightshade.  The brightly-costumed villainess had improved her martial arts skills since her earlier encounters with the Darling of Darkness and was matching her blow for blow, grip for grip.  Eve Eden found herself relishing it.  She loved good competition.  But when Jewelee hip-tossed her against a wall and followed up with a jewel-blast that would have put a hole in her, instead of the wall, had she not dodged, Eve decided to forego the no-power rule.  With an effort of will, she transmuted herself into a shadow.  The next blast of Jewelee’s went right through her, without harm.

“Damn!” cursed the villainess.

Nightshade came at her too fast to be avoided, solidified, and delivered a solid right to the jaw.  Jewelee sprawled unconscious.

She looked back at Harbinger, the closest one to her, and grinned.  “That felt good,” she announced.

“Then feel this!” snapped Bolt, and loosed a blast of high-powered energy at them.  Harbinger barely had time to dish up a protective shield.  At the same time, Beautiful Dreamer used her illusion power.  When the afterglow of the power burst died down, Bolt stared.  The women were gone.  Not destroyed, not injured, but simply not there.

“Where in hell did they go?” he yelled.

A red-gloved hand grabbed his shoulder and turned him around.  “You’ve got other problems,” advised Brute, and cold-cocked him.

The Banshee, a green-costumed villain whose gas-filled costume allowed him to fly, had singled out his old enemy, the Question.  From an aerial perch, he pulled out a .45.  “Sorry I can’t offer any of the silly gimmicks the others have,” he said.  “I find this more efficient.”

The Question crushed a packet he had been holding in his right hand.  Immediately, a large cloud of smoke obscured the spot in which he was standing.  The Banshee, swearing, peppered the area with bullets that spanged off building walls.

An instant after that, he felt a rope-line entwining itself about his neck with a grappling hook on the end of it.  The Banshee grappled for it, trying to keep it from strangling him as he was pulled quickly down to the ground.  He dropped the gun, trying to use both hands to pull the rope away.  The Question got him on street level, slackened the rope, and punched him in the face.

“I find that most efficient,” he remarked to his prone opponent.

Another noose was knotted about the neck of another combatant.  Slipknot, standing on the roof of a two-story structure, had his rope on Thunderbolt’s neck, and was lifting him off the ground with it, using his considerable strength to try and lynch the blonde hero on the spot.  T-Bolt’s face was turning red, and the fingers he had clasped about the noose didn’t seem to be doing much good.

“Aw, man,” said Superboy, and prepared to take action.

“NO, Kal,” said Kara.

He turned his face to her, showing anger and disbelief.  “That guy is killing one of ours!  I can’t go and let him die!”

“Either one of us can stop this at any instant, Kal,” Supergirl said, holding him fast.  “Give him ten more seconds.  If he can’t get out of this in that time, burn the rope with your heat-vision.  But give him that long.”

Instead of grabbing the noose, Thunderbolt reached up to grab the rope above his head.

(I can do it...)

He ignored the oxygen deprivation, went into the place within himself that harnessed the totality of his mind and body, and sent himself upward in a backflip.

(I must do it...)

With a series of acrobatics staged so rapidly Slipknot didn’t have time to let go of the rope, Thunderbolt propelled himself upward on the side of the building, flipping over and over, soles contacting, arms contacting, head contacting, in a display of moves that had Superboy gaping and Kara looking on in silent approval.


Then the Master of the Mind had propelled himself up and over the side of the roof, grabbed the rope to give him more slack and to yank Slipknot within reach, and, even as his foe let go of the rope, snatched him by the tunic.  Slipknot, no slouch in the fighting department, tried a martial arts strike at Thunderbolt.

It was blocked and five blue-gloved knuckles slammed Slipknot onto the far side of wakefulness.

Thunderbolt loosened the noose from his neck and breathed more easily, looking down at the rest in triumph.

“See?” said Kara.

Multiplex was doing what he did best, which was duplicate himself, amoeba-like, into a dozen separate Multiplexes, each with its own blast-weapon.  He advanced on the heroes.  The whole deal seemed to be going to hell, but he’d be in a lot worse hell if he didn’t prove to the Boss that he’d done his share.

Harbinger said, “I’ll take this one,” and, concentrating, split herself into six different Harbingers.  It taxed her somewhat, duplicating selves from a source-self which was a duplicate itself.  For a moment, each of the new Harbingers showed the strain.

“Lyla,” called D’reema, in concern.

“It’s all right,” said Harbinger.  She pulled herself together just as the Multiplexes took aim.  “Draw,” she dared him.

As he did, each of the Harbingers raised their arms and shot forth twin beams of energy.

They dropped the Multiplexes in their tracks.

After that, Harbinger remerged into her one-self.  D’reema was awed.  “Can you do that all the time?”

“Usually,” said Lyla, leaning a bit on the New Genesite.  “But in this state, it can take something out of me.”

Looking sad, D’reema said, “I regret that I haven’t been able to be of much aid in this.  My powers are illusionary in nature.  I am not much of a warrior.”

“You are the most important person here, D’reema,” said Harbinger, fixing her with a serious look.  “You are our living weapon against Darkseid.  Just because you can’t throw a punch, or do energy-blasts, doesn’t make you a fifth wheel.”

“I don’t know this ‘fifth-wheel’ concept,” D’reema admitted.  “But I understand its context.  Thank you, Lyla.”

“You’re welcome,” Harbinger replied.  “But we’re not out of this yet.”

Mentalia drew one of the deadliest opponents in Mindboggler, a powerful female telepath who had been Firestorm’s foe.  As the two of them locked minds, Cindy Carson realized that she was, most likely, outmatched: the force of her enemy’s mental assault was more than she could muster.  Mindboggler smiled, wickedly.  This operation might be going down the tubes, but at least she could take away one scalp with her.

<Your will is my own,> she sent. <Your mind is my own.  Now I command you–>

With that, Mentalia stepped forward, smacked her opponent across the face, and was gratified to feel the mind-pressure fading.

<Ohhhh...> groaned Mindboggler.

<Feeling boggled enough yet, honey?>, sent Mentalia, and sealed it with a bolt that kayoed her foe.

The Blue Beetle faced off with the Madman, a many-colored crook who had one led a gang of similarly-costumed cohorts against him.  The Beetle had his gun out.  “Nice try, BB,” the villain allowed.  “But remember, I know about the gat.  I took it away from you first time we met.  That was how I learned it was just a flash gun, when you used it on me.”

“I remember,” said the Beetle, evenly.

“So I had me a pair of contact lenses made that’ll filter out your little flare-ups,” the Madman continued.  “That gives me a free hand to beat your brains out.”

The Beetle triggered his gun.

A jolt of electrical energy hit the Madman square in the chest, caused his dyed hair to stand straight out, and gave him a look of pain and terrible surprise.

The Beetle strode forward, slugged the Madman in the gut, straightened him out with an uppercut, and put him down for the count.

“I’ve modified it since then,” he explained.

Helio, the flying Sentinel, had just finished a punch-up with Punch, Jewelee’s partner, and had come out the better of the two.  That left only Brute, who was beset by the Hyena.  The latter was a beast-woman, all fur, claw, ferocity, and strength.  She was slashing away with her hind feet at the Brute, who was doing all he could to restrain her with his power gloves, and doing a poor job of it.  His face was already showing some scratches, and his shirt was in tatters, showing the gashes in his chest.

Superboy didn’t ask permission from Kara.  But he felt her hand leaving his shoulder.  Without a word, he leaped at the two of them, dragged the raging Hyena from Brute’s body, held her screaming and clawing uselessly at him for a second, then said, “That’s enough for you.”  He smacked her once in the jaw.  She went limp.

“You all right, fella?” he said to Brute.

The burly ex-gridironer felt of his chest with his left hand and saw blood on his glove.  “I’ve been worse,” he allowed.  “Thanks, brother.”

Superboy gave him a hand up, then turned to Kara.  “This was all right, wasn’t it?”

“Definitely, Kal,” said Supergirl.  “One of the biggest lessons you have to learn about combat is when you’re needed, and when you’re not.  Brute here was in a tight spot, and he needed assistance.   That’s why I let you go.”

“ will I be able to tell?  When I’m needed, and when I’m not?”

“When you’ve got a little more experience under your belt.  By the way, congratulations.  You’ve just had your first super-hero fight.  How did it feel?”

He grinned, still holding onto the Hyena.  “Felt good.”

Captain Atom descended from the skies with the unconscious form of Dr. Spectro.  “Well, that settles that,” he said.  “But we’ve got to get on the move.  We’ve drawn enough attention as it is.”

“Cap,” Supergirl said, “how was it that Eclipso was able to conquer your whole planet with just this little band of mediocre villains?  We didn’t seem to have much problem with them.  And, honestly, neither did you.”

The Question answered.  “This is only part of Eclipso’s forces.  He has more soldiers under his command, some powered, some not.  He didn’t expect that much of a problem with us, since he’d defeated us once before.  He wasn’t counting on you.”

“True, I suppose,” said Harbinger.  “If Kara hadn’t taken out Felix Faust with her speed powers, we might have had rougher going against his sorcery.”

“And with your speed powers, we might not have had to fight these idiots at all,” said Nightshade, snippishly.  “You could have beaten ‘em all probably inside of a minute.”

“True enough, Nightshade,” said Thunderbolt, standing over Slipknot’s kayoed corpus.  “But she let us do it.  We found out we can do it, again.  Wasn’t that the case, Supergirl?”

“You’ve got it,” smiled Kara.  “So all that’s left is to stop the mind-control machine, and I will do that, since we need to get back on the road.  Where is it situated, do you know?”

“Two of our associates that Mentalia was able to shield passed on the word that he’s installed it within the UN building in New York,” said Captain Atom.  “We tried storming it, but we were blasted back by a physical force even the Son of Vulcan and I couldn’t balk.  Even you might not be able to withstand it, Supergirl.”

“Maybe, but I intend to try,” said Supergirl.  “Kal, stay here, but track me with your super-vision.  Can you do that?”

“Well, yeah, but,” said Superboy, “I wanted to be in on the action.”

“And we need you here to guard D’reema,” she replied.  “In case you’ve forgotten, she’s what this entire thing is about.  No offense, Captain, but I’ll feel better with him helping you guard her.  Take it from me...she’s important.”

With that, Supergirl jetted upward into the sky, levelled off at several thousand feet, and beelined for New York.  It took her under a minute, and only that long because she was being careful.

The great edifice of the UN building was soon within her unaided sight.  She expected a blast of force, and slackened her speed a bit.  But it did not come.  She trained her X-ray vision on the structure, found only a skeleton force on duty, and most of those wearing strange uniforms with a black sphere overshadowing a white sphere for an insignia.

On the top floor, she found Eclipso.

There he was, in black and purple uniform, his long-faced head partly branded with a circle of blue.  Not quite Two-Face, but near there.  He was at a control panel, watching a bank of monitors.  There was something or someone beyond him, as well., impossible for her to make out, even with super-vision.  Undoubtedly the source of the power that Captain Atom had encountered.

She set her jaw and plowed through, smashing through a window.

A second later, she was forced backward, smashing through the rest of it.

Supergirl arced outward, hit the pavement, thankfully missing what pedestrians there were, and skidded backward on it, striking sparks, carving ruts in the concrete where she put down her fingers to slow her progress, and making her give thanks for an indestructible costume and an invulnerable rear end.

But who...?

A woman in a many-colored costume soared from the broken windowframe, and landed near her, giving her a sour and very confident smile.

“Get up, Supergirl,” said Blackstarr.  “Or die where you’re sitting.”

 (next chapter)