The Apokolips Agenda

 Part 29

 by DarkMark

Two boys, a girl, and a man left their rent-a-car on the run, parked on the side of the road outside the Metropolis roadblocks.  The cops wouldn’t let them get any further.  They found an overpass nearby and ducked behind it.  No traffic was going through it, anyway.

“Join hands,” said the man, and they did.

“All of us share the same experience,” he said.  “If we go in there, we have to face the fact that some or all of us may not be coming out.  A force that can halt the JLA and the Titans in their tracks is something probably beyond what we’ve faced.”

“Say it again,” said the taller of the boys.

“But I’m going to lend them my hand,” said the man.  “Any of you who wants to join, do it of your own volition.  Ever seen those old war movies where they say, ‘If you don’t volunteer, I’ll understand’?  Well, I’ll understand.”

The girl said, “We’re all in this one, Rob.  It may be our last gig.  But if we’re going down...we’re going down proud.”

“And together,” said the smaller of the two boys.

The blonde man nodded.  “Okay.  Then dial.”

The three youths brought strange metallic dials from their pockets.  Two were disks with four letters each upon them.  The other resembled a telephone dial more than anything else.

They dialed.  They were transformed.  The phone-like dial was passed to the man called Rob, and he dialed as well.  He, too, was changed.

He smiled, looking down at his black-and-yellow costumed form.  Giantboy was the first identity he’d ever dialed up.  It seemed a fitting choice.

“Let’s go, crew,” said Robby Reed, taking to the air.  “Dial H for...”

“HERO!” echoed the three.

They took flight with him, and headed for the chaos of Metropolis.


Near the JLA satellite, a spacecraft warped into dimensional reality and began a slowing process.  Two persons were its entire crew.

“Scans show no one on board,” reported the woman.

“Which means we must scan the major population centers,” said the man.  “If this world is as much at war as ours has been, he’ll be in action.”

“He is, after all, your brother.”

“Yes,” said the man.  “And we must hope very much that he is alive.”

“‘Ware the flames, T’omm.  He must be.”

The man had nothing to say to that.   A mechanism on board began sweeping the surface of the planet below with a biological scanner which would register the presence of one of their kind.  They felt some envy for this planet, whose population was so dense.  Their own had been reduced considerably by the Great Burning of the past, which led to their emigration.

Now, they were in search of one last survivor.

They scrutinized the readout screen and waited for results.


Kal, Kara, and Dev had no time for anything but an instinctive reaction when the Phantom Zoners streamed through the Boom Tube on New Genesis.  Luckily, it was the right reaction.

The three of them sped over to the Forever People, surrounding them (most importantly, surrounding D’reema) on three sides, and raised their eyes and fists to the skies, defiantly.

“Come and get it, you babootch-whelped bastards,” said Dev, with a grim smile.  “See how many of you die.”

“That’s not what we do, Dev,” said Superman, protecting Big Bear and company with his back and training his heat-vision upwards.

“Maybe not what you do, El,” said Dev, doing the same.  “I don’t know if the rest of us can be that fussy.”

“Cripes, Dev, you can’t mean you’re going to kill them?”  Superboy looked at him with consternation.

Dev looked at him hard, and pointed upward with his thumb.  “Up there, lad.  Do any of those look like they’ve come out of a comic book?”

“My God,” breathed young Kal, and flexed his muscles so hard it almost hurt.

Looking up, Kara didn’t feel like saying anything.  Darkseid had liberated the Murderers’ Row of the Zone, and then some.  Twenty against three, and that was likely what the odds would be, despite the other heroes who stood beside them.  Only she, her cousin, and Dev-Em were Krypton-class.

It was easy to run a make on most of the Zoners.  Jax-Ur, unofficial leader of the group.  General Zod, his rival and right-hand man.  Professor Vakox.  Kru-El, their blacksheep relative.  Cha-Mel, who had disguise powers in addition to his Krypt abilities.  Dr. Xadu.  Tra-Gob.  Ha-Kor.  Gra-Mo.  Erndine Ze-Da.  Zan-Em.  Ras-Krom.  Vor-Kil, the klurkor master.  Ar-Ual.  Zal-Te.  Four other villains that were unfamiliar to her, but who had recently almost destroyed Earth-2: Badra, Mala, Kizo, and U-Ban.

Plus one woman whom Supergirl had hoped she’d never have to encounter again in her life, the deadly Faora Hu-Ul.

All of them were sporting the red metal bracelets, and she guessed that they were control elements of some sort.  “Check out the armwear, guys,” she hissed to the other three.

“Already have,” said Superman.  “It’s a binding on some form of energy-force.  That must be how Darkseid controls them.”

The twenty were moving down in a phalanx.  “Stand fast,” said Superman.  “In a moment...NOW.”

The four of them shot upward.  The twenty Zoners shot downward.

And both of them rebounded off a transparent wall in between.

“Great Wall of the Source,” said Serifan, looking up in awe.  “Who did the force-field?”

“Not us,” Mark Moonrider confirmed.  “I think–over there!”

Zatanna had completed her backwards-spell and, looking on the results, was satisfied, though tense.  “Definitely bad, crew,” she reported.  “Every one of those guys has the power of Superman.  They’re more than any of us can handle.”

“Not more than I can handle,” proclaimed Highfather, and, striding forward, held up his staff.  “Hail!”  He yelled at the skies.

Zatanna’s shield only covered the small area of contact between the Kryptonians.  Tra-Gob’s attention was attracted by Izaya’s posturing.  “Looks like we’ve got a target,” he remarked.

Jax-Ur turned in his direction.  “Tra, no.  He’s not our objective.  We’re here for the girl.”

“We’re here for the girl, and anybody we feel like killing on the way,” said the Zoner, and, kicking his feet, shot downward at the ruler of New Genesis.

“Holy–“ started Superboy, and made a rush to try to intercept Tra-Gob.  Dev-Em managed to grab him by the ankle, and the recoil nearly jarred the teeth out of both of them.  Young Kal started to ask him what the hell he had done that for.

Then a bolt of pure whiteness arced up from Izaya’s staff and knocked Tra-Gob out of the sky.

“Oh,” said Superboy.

“Yeah,” said Dev.  “I learned about him already.”

Lady Quark was in flight, angrily seeking out a target for her wrath.  Harbinger was shouting a warning to her, but she didn’t care.  There was still a lot of free-floating anger in her from having watched the death of her family and her world, and she wanted something to strike.  So she picked out two of the three females in the group, Badra and Ar-Ual, and, raising her hands, let loose a stream of megatonnage that would reduce the average super-villain to a smoking potato chip.

On Badra, it did seem to have some effect.  The impact of the superheated atomic plasma caused her to cry out in pain, knocked her back somewhat.  As a Hatorian, she was somewhat more vulnerable to such things.

Ar-Ual, on the other hand, waited patiently for the blinding mass of nuclear heat to dissipate on her chest.  When it cleared, she said, “Finished now?”

The heroine of Earth-6 tried to dodge, but Ar-Ual’s speed was too great for her.  One open-handed slap across the face and Quark plummeted towards the ground, senseless.

“Cigam, tsalb ruo seof morf eht seiks,” said Zatanna.  From her hands, twin bolts of power leaped, separated into tendrils, and struck five of the Zoners.  Cha-Mel, Zan-Em, Zal-Te, Ras-Krom, and Erndine Ze-Da expected as little trouble from her as they had from Lady Quark.

The five of them fell into unconsciousness so quickly they didn’t have time to be surprised.  The heroes and Celestials on the ground had to dodge their falling bodies.

Harbinger took flight and headed for the Kryptonian defenders and the Forever People.  Kara saw her and made way, slightly.  She knew her objective: D’reema.  With Lyla’s dimension-spanning powers, she could get the girl to safety.

But she never quite got there.

Mala, the headbanded villain from Earth-2, slammed into her from above with both feet and knocked her to the ground, unconscious, possibly injured.  Kara, facing him, saw it.

Within a fifth of a second she had slammed into him broadside and was smashing away at him, screaming.  Bruised, Mala sent a punch into her jaw and knocked her back.  He tried to go after her, felt a pull from his shoulder, and turned his head to see Dev-Em.  Dev shot two bolts of heat into his eyes.  Mala screamed.

Then Dev kneed him in the groin and finished him with an uppercut when he bent double.

Kizo and U-Ban, the brothers of the felled Mala, tried to hit Dev from behind and instead slammed into an intervening Kara.  All of them bowled into Dev and the four began a free-for-all on the ground, which lasted for a few seconds and several blows before Superman grabbed both Krypton-2'ers by the collars and slammed their heads together as hard as he could.  Kizo and U-Ban went out.

“Thanks, Kal,” breathed Kara, picking herself up.  “But what about D’reema?”

The three of them heard Superboy cry out.

He had good reason to.  Jax-Ur, Kru-El, and Zod had gotten through and young Kal was trying to hold them off all by his lonesome.  But he was much younger than the three Zoners, had less fighting experience, and was fighting three-against-one.

They were beating him to a pulp.

The only consolation was that they were concentrating on him, since he was the image of their hated enemy, and neglecting the Forever People for the moment.  The Supertown quintet were gathered about their Mother Box, their hands placed on four of its sides (and on the bottom, in Serifan’s case) and chanting something, with their eyes closed.  Kara hoped they were about to summon some kind of power.  Otherwise, it seemed like the dumbest thing to do on a battlefield she’d ever seen.

Kal and Dev rocketed forward to save their partner.  Kara attemped to do the same, but found her hair painfully gripped from behind.  A familiar voice said, “Welcome, Kara.  It’s about time we finished up a little unfinished business.”

Faora Hu-Ul.  The deadliest martial artist of Old Krypton.  The woman whom she had once knocked out with a lucky punch, when Faora had been badly burned by a pyrotic Zoner.

The woman who had never forgotten that incident.

Kara slammed a fist upward into Faora’s jaw even as the Zoner woman gave her a pinpoint strike to a vital area.  It was a simple blow, but, suddenly, Supergirl’s body became a world of agony.

The punch had hurt Faora, too, but she was able to recover from it before Supergirl could do likewise.  Curled into a fetal ball, Kara remembered numbly how the murderess had almost killed Superman with her deadly fighting tactics.  She forced herself to push the pain away from her consciousness, tried to make her convulsant limbs obey her commands, tried to find a way to get up and fight for herself.

Faora pulled her head back by the curls of hair at her forehead.  Grunting in pain, Supergirl strove to activate her heat vision and send a bolt at her enemy’s face.  Then she saw Faora’s free hand forked for a two-finger strike and knew that it wouldn’t be in time.

The fingers descended towards her eyes.

She had time to think of Dev, and she had time to hear one uncanny booming sound from nearby:


It even made Faora hesitate for a second, and that was just enough time.

There was a whooshing noise of great wind.  A great orange hand grabbed Faora’s striking hand at the wrist.  The villainess exerted all her Kryptonian power against it.  She still couldn’t move.

Faora Hu-Ul looked up at the towering figure who restrained her.  He was orangish in color, clad in a mask-helmet and body armor of some sort, and Supergirl remembered having seen him once before, on a recent time-trip into the past.  But, of course, Faora had never seen him before.

“Who in R**-damned Sheol are you?” she demanded.

The giant spoke three sentences.

“I have HEARD.

“I am HERE.

“I am the INFINITY MAN.”

With that, he flung Faora Hu-Ul into the skies.  Her screaming stopped being audible once she left the outer atmosphere.

Dev, Superman, and Superboy, in the midst of Jax-Ur’s band, took a moment from the fight to glance in that direction.  They had seen the Forever People disappear and the Infinity Man appear in their place.  Young Kal knew it all from his favorite Fourth World comic.

“Oh, man,” said Superboy, grinning despite his bloodied nose.  “We’re in for some action now!”

The Infinity Man sprinted in their direction with incredible speed and, taking hands on Jax-Ur and Zod, pulled them from the fray and smashed them together.  Both of the Zoners fell and stayed put.  Kru-El, snarling, decided to get in a last shot at Superman while he had time.

“No way, cousin,” grunted Kal, and brought one up from the floor that connected with Kru’s jaw and sent him flying.

“Kara,” said Dev, and flew to her side almost before he could finish saying her name.  He took her up and held her as she fought to overcome the effects of Faora’s nerve blow.

“I’m all right, Dev,” she managed to say.  “But thanks.”

The eight Zoners who were left–Vakox, Dr. Xadu, Tra-Gob, Gra-Mo, Ha-Kor, Ar-Ual, Badra, and Vor-Kil-- were assembled together on the ground near the four Krypts and the Infinity Man.  Highfather was coming towards them, and Zatanna was preparing to loose another spell.  Even Alex Luthor and Pariah were about to see what they could do.

Badra took charge.  “We have been fighting like an undisciplined mob,” she said.  “Use your eyes.  Blast the lesser ones!”

“Not a bad idea,” responded Ar-Ual.

Eight pairs of heat-beams, rivalling the sun in their intensity, stabbed out at the surrounding heroes.  Zatanna barely had time to throw herself backward onto the grass.  Highfather raised his staff and deflected the beams which reached him, but knew he could only absorb so much.  Alex Luthor simply opened the warp in his midsection and let the heat-rays pass on into another universe.

Pariah, though, stood his ground, took the heat-vision of Vakox on his chest, and watched it rebound with fury against his opponent.  The professor fell back, howling in pain, clutching his eyes.  Kell smiled, tightly.  “Would anyone else like to try?” he asked.

Badra scowled.  It wasn’t going to be that easy.

Metron appeared on the scene and sent rayblasts of his own towards the Krypt villains, threading them to as close the wavelength of green Kryptonite as he was able.  It worked, to some extent.  He at least saw the Zoners wince with pain.

But that didn’t stop Ha-Kor from surging at him and, before Metron could even react, smashing him from the Moebius Chair.

Jezebelle blasted up at the attacker with her fiery vision, which did little other than warm his face.  Bug tackled her, getting her out of Ha-Kor’s path.  “Stay down,” he warned her, knowing that there was nothing they could do for Metron and scant more for themselves.

Metron was unconscious on the ground in the midst of his chair’s wreckage.  Ha-Kor’s mighty hand came up and began to descend, on a course towards his head.

Seeing it, Supergirl kicked herself into action.  She took flight, one fist outstretched, pouring on as much super-acceleration as she could.  But her encounter with Faora had weakened her, and she knew, even as she blasted forward, that she’d be a fraction of a second too late.  She unleashed her heat vision, hoping for a save.

And before Ha-Kor’s fist could connect, a paralyzing bolt of white power smashed into him, made his hair stand on end like that of an electrocution victim, and caused him to drop senseless beside Metron’s prone form.

Supergirl swept him up and threw him aside, then grasped Metron and carried him to Highfather, whose staff was still sparking with power.  “Thanks, Izaya,” she said, setting the New God at his feet.

“Thank me not till the battle’s done,” warned Izaya.

“Good advice,” she said.  The Girl of Steel streaked back towards the phalanx of bad guys.

Ar-Ual flew out to meet her.  “You’re the one for me, Supergirl.  I’ve never had the chance to smash your face to bits.”

“Oh, yes you have,” said Kara, enigmatically, and soared forward to meet her.  Ar-Ual gave her a quizzical look for a moment.

Just before Supergirl would have contacted her, or vice versa, Ar-Ual did a fadeout.  Kara cried out in surprise and, unable to stop in time, piled into the six remaining Zoners.  She tried to fly up before they could recover, but Dr. Xadu grabbed her by the arm and hauled her back.  “No need to run so soon,” he declared.

“Kill her,” ordered Badra.

Before the sextet could manage it, a flying wedge of three Kryptonian bodies slammed into them anew.  Dev, Superman, and Superboy were followed by the Infinity Man, who held out both his hands and produced a shock-blast that scattered them all.

Superman grabbed Xadu by the shirtfront.  “You know, considering the numbers you started out with, I’d say you guys aren’t doing so well after all.”

He punched Xadu in the face three times, quickly.  Xadu sagged in his grasp.

“See?  Now it’s just five.”

Vor-Kil slammed a flat chop to the side of Kal’s neck with tremendous force, knocking him sprawling.  “One is all it takes, Superman,” said Vor-Kil, raising both hands for a power strike.  “One is all it takes.”

Somebody tapped him on the shoulder.  “‘Scuse me,” said Superboy, his nose still bloody.  Vor-Kil turned, despite himself.

From behind, Superboy kneed him in the crotch.

“Kal!” yelled Supergirl, in anger.  “That’s dirty fighting!”

“Sure as hell is,” he said, poking two fingers in Vor’s eyes, kicking him in the stomach, and kneeing him in the face.  Vor-Kil went down.

Superman came up, rubbing his neck.  “That’s one I owe you.  But it’s still dirty fighting.”

“Gets the damn job done, El,” said Dev, coming up and punching Vakox with a right cross.  “You might try it sometime.”

Badra leaped out at Supergirl, snarling, catching her from the front, raking her claws against the blonde’s face.  “Oh, Sheol,” yelled Kara, more in anger than in pain, and slugged Badra in the chin.  The Hatorian recoiled, but unleashed a blow of her own at Kara’s stomach.   Evidently, the unfamiliar villainess was made of sturdy stuff.

“Blast the orange one!” Badra cried, trying for a stranglehold on Supergirl.  “Reduce him to his component parts.  One will be our objective.”

Supergirl’s hands came up and smacked away Badra’s choking grip.  She followed up with a head-butt to her foe’s forehead, which she hoped transmitted at least as much hurt as she received.  Badra wound her legs about Supergirl’s waist, and both of them grappled in the air.

“You know, the more I do this, the more I find myself liking it,” grated Supergirl to her foe.  “And I really don’t like that.”

“Ask me if I give a damn in seven hells what you like, woman!”

Kara’s hand struck at a nerve cluster in Badra’s left thigh, causing her foe to cry out and loosen her scissors grip.  Once freed, Kara grabbed Badra by both shoulders and delivered a knee to her labonza.  As the Earth-2 villainess gasped for breath, Supergirl grabbed her right arm and wrenched it hard, dislocating it.  Badra somehow managed to gasp in enough air to scream.

Supergirl’s elbow went back hard into Badra’s face, three times.  By the third, the Hatorian’s head was seeming to roll on her shoulders.   Kara regarded her.

“Okay,” she said.  “I’m asking.  Do you give a damn in seven hells what I like?”

No answer.

“Apparently not,” said Kara, and polished her off with a blow to the chin.

She turned, took a look at the battlefield, and regarded those who were left.  Tra-Gob, Ha-Kor, Gra-Mo, and Vakox.  It was incredible.  Twenty had faced them, and only four remained.

Zatanna knocked Tra-Gob out with a spell.  Ha-Kor fell prey to the staff-bolt of a grim-looking Izaya.  Gra-Mo tried sparring with the Infinity Man, and, one swipe of a huge orange paw later, found that he was outclassed.  That left only Professor Vakox.  Superman stepped up and grabbed him by the arm.

“Superman,” he said, nervously.  “I am a scientist.  Not a fighter.”

“You’re also a Zoner,” said Superman.  “Sorry.”  He hauled off and knocked Vakox off his feet.  The redheaded savant landed on his back, unconscious.

Supergirl looked about her at the battlefield outside of Highfather’s palace, at the bedraggled heroes and heroines, at Harbinger and Lady Quark being tended to by Zatanna, Alex, and Pariah,  at her three fellow Krypts, and, finally, at the unconscious Zoners littering the landscape, each of them with his or her matching red metal armband.

It took an effort, but she kept from crying out of exhaustion.

Instead, she sighed, walked up to Superman, and put her head against his chest.  He embraced her, gently.  She smelled the sweat on his uniform and felt the tired up-and-down of his chest.  It was nice to be with him.  Even in a situation such as this.  Especially this.

“Kal,” she said.  “Why?  What was it for?”

Stroking the back of her head, Kal said, “Well, most likely, for D’reema.  But they didn’t get her. Is that what you were asking?”

“I guess,” she said.  “I’m too tired to get existential.  We really beat them, didn’t we?”

“With a little help from our friends.  Twenty-to-four odds was something even we couldn’t have bucked.”

“I love you, Kalian.”

“Love you back, Karaish.”

“Put me down for that one, too,” said Dev, trundling up with Superboy in tow.  Young Kal looked to be limping a bit, and he sported bruises as well as his already-bloodied nose.  Dear Rao, thought Kara, looking at him.  How are we ever going to send him back to his parents like that?

When Superboy noticed her looking at him, he smiled.

Kara broke away from her cousin, bussed Dev on the lips and hugged him briefly.  “You did good, Devian,” she said.

“Glad to know it,” he said.  “So did the kid, here.”

“He certainly did.”  Kara grasped young Kal by the wrists to guide him in front of her, then said, “Hold still, Kal,” and went over his face and head with her X-ray vision.  There didn’t seem to be any evidence of concussion, which was good.  His nose would heal at the normal rate, she judged, and though he had some mean bruises on various parts of his body (including his jaw and cheek), he seemed to have no serious wounds.

“You’ll be fine, kid,” she said, patting a non-bruised part of his face.  “Take it from Dr. Kara Zor-El, last medic of Argo City.”

“It was hard,” said Superboy, rubbing his jaw tenderly where he’d taken a hard slug.

“First time against fellow Krypts always is, lad,” said Dev.  “Take it from me.”

Young Kal hesitated.  “Um,” he said.  “Did I–“

“You were a trouper, Kal,” said Supergirl.  “A real fighter.  A real Krypt.”

“He was more than that,” said Superman, walking up to him and offering his hand.  As young Kal took it and shook it, Superman said, “He was a real Superboy.”

The kid’s mouth hung open for a very long time.  That is, until he and big Kal hugged each other.

Dev glanced at Kara.  “Sorta like having a son, I’d imagine.”

Kara looked at him, with an almost painful twinge of emotion.  “Maybe,” was all she could get out.

The Infinity Man came near, and towered over the four of them.  “It is good we meet again, Superman,” he rumbled.  “And good we meet your fellows.”

“Thanks, big fella,” said Superman.  “Just glad you could make it.  I understand the Forever People had a hard time summoning you beforehand.  How could they manage it this time?”

“With my aid, Superman,” called out Izaya, stepping towards them with his staff in one hand.  “I boosted Mother Box’s power with the might of my staff.  We needed the Infinity Man in this crisis.  Only by exchanging him with the Forever People could we keep Beautiful Dreamer out of the hands of our foes.”  He stood before the helmeted giant.  “Hail, lost warrior of New Genesis.”

“Hail, O Highfather, lord of New Genesis,” returned Infinity Man.  Izaya held forth the tip of his staff.  The Infinity Man touched it.  A crackle of energy coursed along it, warming his hand in greeting.

Mr. Miracle and Barda were on the scene, propping up Metron between them.  “Father,” he said.  “Metron’s okay.”

“My chair,” said Metron, mournfully.  “My chair is demolished.”

Izaya turned to regard him. “We can build a new one, Metron,” he declared.  “But we have other pressing matters before us.”

“True,” said Supergirl.  “Such as: we’ve got just over two days to stop Darkseid.  And we have to do something about the Zoners.”

Zatanna said, “I think Harbinger and I may be able to help along those lines.”

And so it was that, a few minutes later, combining powers of magic and science, Zatanna and Lyla opened a small aperture from their reality into the Phantom Zone.  A small patch of greyness was visible beyond.  The Krypts worked quickly, chunking the nineteen unconscious Zoners into the cloudy realm.  Then Zatanna said, “Praw esolc pu,” and the hole irised shut.

“Good thing there weren’t any of the others around trying to get out,” said Kara.

“Lucky indeed,” said Superman.  “Also lucky Darkseid only chose twenty of them instead of the couple of hundred he could have.  Even he must not have trusted himself to control more than that.”

“Faora Hu-Ul’s still out there,” said Kara.

“Yes,” said Superman, soberly.  “At least she’s not back here yet.”

“Probably saw what happened to the rest and decided to wait till another time,” guessed Dev.

The Infinity Man said, “I must leave.  There is only a certain amount of time I can spend on this plane.  But I am grateful to you, Highfather, for having helped release me.  And I am glad to have played a part in this battle.”

“Yeah, well,” said Supergirl, “we’re kind of glad you happened by, too.”

The giant crossed his arms over his chest.


The five Forever People reappeared, their hands still on the Mother Box.  They blinked, sighed, adjusted to New Genesis reality again.  “Did we do good?” asked Big Bear.

“Very good, Brother Bear,” said Dev.  “How’s D’reema?”

“Oh, doing fine,” said Mark Moonrider, escorting the girl forward.  She gently removed his arm, and, gingerly, began to walk towards Highfather.  Izaya stayed where he was, silent.  She touched his face, and smiled.  He offered her the embrace of his staff arm.

“Father,” she said.  “It has been too long.”

“Daughter,” he said, “much, much too long.”

“Father?” said Supergirl, looking on in surprise.  “Daughter?  You mean–“

“Yes,” said Vykin the Black.  “D’reema is Highfather’s daughter.”

The embrace of Izaya and D’reema really should have gone on for a much longer time.  But there were circumstances beyond their control.

Such as the thundering BOOM which came from above.

Supergirl and the others were barely able to look up before the shadows started pouring from the end of the Boom Tube from Apokolips.

Like leeches of ice, they streamed forth in a stream that spread and reminded Kara of a black, black oil slick.  She sped towards Izaya and D’reema, but wasn’t able to get there before the shadows plated themselves about her body, as they did to all the others, and paralyzed her for a moment with the cold of a negative Hell.

She gasped, cursed herself for her weakness, and struggled to break free or to even see through them.  But they were wound about her many layers thick, and it took time to punch through them or blast through them with her heat-vision.  With her super-hearing, she could hear screams and cries of pain, sounds of blasting, even the whisking noise of Izaya releasing his Alpha Bullets.

It couldn’t have taken more than twenty seconds.  But that was an eternity.

Then the shadows were withdrawn from her and sucked back up into the tube and, try though she and Kal and Superboy and Dev did, as tired and stricken as they were, they couldn’t get to the end of it before it closed.  They sped past the space in which it had been, fruitlessly, and circled back.

They looked at the figures below them, many unconscious, most covered to some degree with the frost that was the shadows’ trademark.

All of their friends and allies were accounted for.  All of them but one.

Kara was the one who said it first.

“They’ve got D’reema.”

 (next chapter)