Even in 30th Century Metropolis, there are places where you can open up a space warp and not get detected.
The particular warp that disgorged Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, opened its multicolored maw in a fairly depressed area, on the other end of town from Legion Headquarters. A few dreamheads, nodding off against the exterior walls of buildings, saw it, placed it among their other illusions, and went back to their mind-altering vapors.
Eobard Thawne, who wore a yellow Flash uniform, had fifteen seconds to get across town, perform his errand, get back, and jump through the warp before it closed again.
He wouldn't need all of them.
Dev-Em barely had time to register his adversary's form before he caromed off him, chest-to-chest, like a billiard ball on a felt table.
Neither one had any weight in the vacuum, but Black Adam's mass, momentum, and strength were more than enough to hurl Dev-Em ass-over-teakettle into the void for a few miles. The impact hurt. Dev shook his head to clear it. Intellectually, he'd been prepared for a foe on his own power level. But it was never the same as the real experience. It was like fighting one of Darkseid's Daxamites again.
Only this guy was neither Kryptonian or Daxamite. He was Black Adam, an unknown, magic-powered quantity.
Dev wiped a string of blood from the corner of his mouth. He used flight power to halt his backwards progress and right himself. He leapt forward, and, within a fraction of a second, was within a hundred yards of Black Adam.
The black-and-yellow-clad figure was standing there, impassive, one hand held up in a signal of halt.
<Hold, man,> sent Black Adam through a telepathic plug that one of Mordru's men had given him. (He was getting the hang of sending and receiving thought messages.) <Before battle, tell me who you are and how are you called.>
<You've gotta be kidding me, mate,> said Dev, rushing forward and attempting a kick.
Black Adam whirled and parried Dev's leg with a kick of his own, hard into the thigh muscle. Dev yelped soundlessly, his cry of pain translated as a static burst in the telepathic wave.
<It is a point of honor to let a foe know who his slayer will be,> said Adam, who smashed a hard fist into Dev's breadbasket. Gasping, Dev decided enough was enough, and whanged the sides of Black Adam's head with his fists, simultaneously. Adam's face registered pain, but he didn't scream. Dev tried to follow with a karate blow. Black Adam caught his wrist and began to crunch it painfully with his fingers.
Holding Dev's other wrist with his free hand, the Egyptian stared coldly into the Kryptonian's eyes. <I am Teth-Adam, called Mighty Adam and then Black Adam by the ancient wizard who gave me my powers, and I hail from the Black Land of Egypt. I was the slayer of a Pharaoh, six millenia past. I was exiled to the farthest star for my crime, but made my way back to Earth, where I made war against the wizard's latecoming allies, those who were called Marvels. Mine is the endurance of Shu, the strength of Hershef, the power of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the speed of Anpu, and the courage of Menthu. Now you, man, tell me whom I will slay.>
Dev brought his knee up into Adam's gut and managed to twist free. <Name's Dev-Em. I'm from Krypton. I work for the U.P. Pleased to meet you.>
Both hurled punches like meteors at each other's jaw, and hit with the impact of a hundred blockbusters.
Dev saw white and black lights inside his skull, flung himself backwards, cursed himself for an amateur at having been taken so easily, and slapped the sides of his head to bring himself back around.
A mile or two away, his super-vision picked up Black Adam. His movements showed that he was feeling the effects of Dev's blow, too. But he was getting over it, and he was heading forward, fast.
Intercepted already, thought Dev. This is no damned good. No damned good at all.
And as he streaked forward to confront Adam again, Dev took a split-second to check on his partners.
A split-second later, he wished he hadn't.
Supergirl had been rocketed backward in the starry void by the collision with Satan Girl. Unlike Black Adam, Satan Girl didn't bounce off her opponent or waste time with an introduction. She stayed with Kara, grappling, punching, kicking, and scratching. Kara was aghast. She'd been in tough fights before, even against Satan Girl herself, but the viciousness of her cloneling's attack was like that of a rabid leopard.
The worst part of it was looking at Satan Girl's face. Her own face. Twisted in hatred and fury, brimming with viciousness and lust, void of mercy or love. Her Dark Side.
With all of her world-staggering power.
Kara would sooner have been grappling with a Kryptonian rattlesnake.
The purple-suited girl was going for Supergirl's eyes. Desperately, Kara grabbed her foe's wrists, kneed her in the stomach as hard as she could, and head-butted her in the forehead. It felt like banging her head into a steel wall, but she could see Satan Girl wince with the pain for a second. But her foe was hardly finished.
Satan Girl pulled one hand free and sent five hard punches into Kara's abs, nauseating her counterpart. Kara choked down bile and answered with a haymaker that knocked her rival off of her, thankfully, and into space. She saw tiny globules of red floating past her eyes. She wiped the side of her face with a hand and felt the scratches that the devil-girl had inflicted on her.
Grimly, Kara hurled herself forward. Her enemy was already within plain sight. <TearyoureyesoutandEATTHEM,> sent Satan Girl, not even conscious of her speech. <RipyouapartandseveryourINTESTINES.>
<Shut up shut up SHUT UP,> snarled Kara, and smashed into her. It was like the collision of two starships, at the very least.
But the queen of hate recovered quickly, and, hanging onto Kara's wrists, directed two beams of withering heat into Kara's open eyes. The heroine screamed in pain. She wasn't injured, but it did hurt. And the shock had temporarily impaired her vision.
While she shoved, clawed, and struck blindly against Satan Girl, Supergirl
felt her foe's powerful legs snaking about her midsection and her hands
wrapping themselves around her throat.
The low-level murmur from Satan Girl's telepathic plug was the equivalent of a groan of pleasure.
Laurel Kent, in black bikini and red cape, rushed forward as fast as her flight ring would propel her and crashed her invulnerable body against Ar-Ual. The force staggered the Zoner woman, but didn't put her away. Well, thought Laurel, so she's tough. Come on, L.K., you didn't want to join the Legion just so you could fight Earth-level bad guys, did you? Time to show ‘em you've recovered all the way from that Kryptonite bullet.
She set her pretty face in a grim expression, took measure of her rival...a brown-haired beauty in an orange pullover shirt, purple pants, and black shoes, hardly a suitable space ensemble for anyone who wasn't Krypton-class...balled her fist, hauled off, and sent it crashing into Ar-Ual's jaw.
Ar-Ual's head moved a bit, and that was it.
<Excuse me...did you just hit me?> said Ar-Ual, genuinely puzzled.
For a second, Laurel's eyes widened in realization. Then she moved forward and sent a flurry of punches, knees, and kicks at the woman's slim frame. She pounded away as hard as she could, gasping with effort and unable to take anything into her lungs but reserve air. Globules of sweat dripped off her half-naked body.
Ar-Ual was just standing there, patiently, her hands clasped calmly in front of her, waiting her out. Snarling in anger and desperation, Laurel even sent a knee into her foe's crotch, and hoped neither of the other two saw her.
She might as well have been kneeing a tree.
Both combatants realized the situation: though Laurel's body was mostly impervious to harm, she had neither the strength nor speed of her forebears. A Kryptonian can hurt another Kryptonian, but only when his or her blows are driven with the super-strength they acquire under a yellow sun.
Laurel had only manifested the power of invulnerability.
Ar-Ual had all the powers of a native-born Kryptonian. She could hurt her opponent.
Before Laurel could dart away, Ar-Ual snagged her by one wrist. Then she drew back her other fist and buried it deep in Laurel's bare belly. A static-scream exploded through the telepathic wave-band.
The villainess snapped Laurel's head back in a whiplash with an uppercut. She wrapped her legs about Laurel's pelvis to hold her in position, and began to rain blows down upon the teenager's face and body.
For the first time, Ar-Ual's resentment at being schlepped here by Mordru abated a little. She was having fun.
Barrel-rolling through space, Black Adam and Dev-Em battled, their limbs moving so quickly they seemed a blur even to beings with super-vision. Both were sustaining damage, but Dev was on the defensive more than he liked. This long-nosed, pointy-eared idiot in the black pajamas looked like he was enjoying himself.
<Man, know that you will be the first to die by the hand of Black Adam in this age,> sent Adam, chopping at Dev's throat. <Then, may the next throat to feel this hand be that of Captain Marvel himself. I will commit your corpse to one of the bodies of great Ra about us.>
One of Adam's hands was indeed clutching Dev's throat with surprising force. Still and all, thought Dev as his face reddened, it's not as bad as the girls have got. Time to quit jerking around here.
He stared balefully into Black Adam's arrogant eyes.
Then he blasted those eyes with a full-force heat-vision burst. At the same time, he smashed a knee into Adam's crotch.
The static told him he'd done something right, for a change.
Dev tore Adam's hand from his throat, clenched his own hands, and smashed them down as hard as he could on his foe's head. The angle wasn't quite right. The blow glanced more than it should have. But it would take care of him for a few seconds.
Time enough for what he had to do.
Laurel was getting pounded like meat under a tenderizer mallet. Dev was streaking towards her and Ar-Ual, but it would still be a second before he could get there.
In that second, Laurel desperately raised her fist and smashed it into Ar-Ual's cheek, full-force.
Ar-Ual got her second surprise of the fight.
It hurt, and she was sent flying.
Dev arrowed through their pocket of space and grabbed Laurel's arm. He didn't slacken speed. He had another passenger to pick up.
Kara, in Satan Girl's ruthless grip, had almost panicked. It took seven klurkor strikes to the chest and a kick to the gut to loosen her rival's hands. The woman's purple-garbed legs were still squeezing her like a pair of steel construction beams. Supergirl was smashing away at the villainess's face with both hands, and now her foe was starting to return her blows. On the periphery of her consciousness, Kara sensed a steady stream of obscenities directed at her through the telepathic plug. She sent one of her elbows spiking down at Satan Girl's thigh, striking it hard enough to make her loosen her scissors. Satan Girl was pulling Kara's hair with one hand and clawing at her face with the other.
Grimly, Kara said to hell with manners and bit the woman's hand.
Satan Girl cried out in pain. <You unmothered little BITCH of a matrix-being!> she yelled. Before she could get out too many more curses, five hard fingers went to a pressure point on her neck.
They were on the end of Dev's hand.
<Grab hold,> he snapped to Kara. Satan Girl's body was going limp, but Kara could tell she'd shake it off within seconds.
She kicked off Satan Girl's legs and grasped Dev's outstretched hand.
Dev rocketed away from Satan Girl, carrying his two partners with him. The three villains would be attacking within instants, if they remained where they were.
<Join your speed with mine, Kara,> said Dev. <It's our only chance.>
They were headed for the warp.
As they approached its event horizon, Black Adam flew up towards them, smiling grimly, his arms outstretched. <Woman, know that I am Black Adam, slayer of Pharaoh,> he began.
Kara stuck out her foot and kicked him in the face.
Then they hit the warp.
Seconds later, Satan Girl streaked in after them like a comet of hate. But she was too late. In warp-space, only an object within touching distance can be perceived with any reliability.
<Where are you?> she sent, her plug turned to maximum to pick up the slightest broadcast. <WHERE ARE YOU?>
Swearing, Satan Girl left the warp, returning to normal space. There was no way of tracking her foes now, unless she went all the way to Earth. And Mordru had ordered her to stay on call for the time being.
She faced Black Adam and Ar-Ual, hovering in space. <They're gone,> she told them.
The Egyptian smiled. <We repelled them like the miserable curs they were. Mordru has chosen well for his soldiers, especially when he decreed I should stand beside you in this Ra-haunted void.>
Ar-Ual, who had stood apart from the other two, said, <Give it a rest, Earther. I saw Kara give you that kick in the chops. But we did kick their backsides for them, didn't we?> She permitted herself a half-smile. If she had to be doing this job, at least she was doing it right.
<Ahhhhhrrr, I don't want to repel her...I want to tear her throat out,> blasted Satan Girl. <But not from the outside...to punch my hands through another part of her body and then reach up from the inside and do it, while roasting her guts with the heat of my eyes, and then to rip it out and display her viscera before her dying eyes, this is my wish...>
<Would you shut up? You're making me sick,> said Ar-Ual. She was beginning to loathe the woman.
<That's enough, both of you,> said Black Adam. <We performed well our duty for our new chieftain. Now shall we return to his presence. I doubt our foes will return anytime soon.>
Satan Girl brought herself closer to Black Adam, and he didn't know whether to back away or stand fast. <The battle has excited me, warrior. I find my senses are heightened...have you ever contemplated mating in space before?>
<Great Rao,> groaned Ar-Ual, in disgust.
Black Adam looked at her for another second, and then turned away. <We're still on the job,> he said, and sent himself towards Zerox.
In another second, Ar-Ual and Satan Girl followed.
Ar-Ual didn't even try to hide her smile.
To break into Legion headquarters was no simple thing. From the outside it looked like an easy place to crack, as open as it seemed to be. But that was misleading.
For one thing, there were the reinforced Intertron outer walls. Superboy and Mon-El could break through them, but it would take several blows at that, and they'd probably bruise their knuckles. Validus might manage it, but, thus far, he hadn't tried.
For another, the spaces between the inner and outer walls were pulsing with energy-barriers. Even phantoms from Bgztl, Phantom Girl's world, would be rendered senseless if they tried unauthorized entry. The levels of the energies could be adjusted to the point where they could become quite lethal, even to Validus.
For a third, the entire area could be surrounded by a force-field when sensors detected penetration by an intruder. A secondary field could lock around the intruder, immobilizing him in an invisible booth of solidified power.
For a fourth, the building was covered with visual, temperature, and sonic scanners maintained by Computo, which perceived any penetration within a fraction of a second and acted accordingly.
For a fifth, there were always Legionnaires on duty, and they didn't take kindly to anyone who barged in without authorization. Thus, few people under the power level of the Fatal Five had ever attempted it.
An intruder would have to be able to vibrate through the outer wall, move fast enough to dodge the various pulses of energy within the walls, outrun the scanners and Computo's responses, and strike before the Legionnaires knew what was happening.
That may be why Brainiac 5, who had been watching monitors trained to various hot spots in the known galaxy, found himself spun around like a whirligig and caroming off a wall. It didn't hurt, but even he was at a loss for an explanation. Element Lad and Colossal Boy rushed over to help him up.
"Querl, what happened?" asked El Lad. "You looked like you had a spasm."
"He looked like he had St. Vitus's Dance," said Gim. "What gives, Brainy?"
"I don't--" started Brainy, and then his hands went to his waist as he realized a slight change in weight. Normal men might not have caught it so quickly. Brainiac did, and he knew.
The yellow force-field belt was no longer around his waist.
"We're under attack," he shouted. "Computo, shields!"
Actually, he was wrong. The attack was already over. Professor Zoom, Brainiac's belt grasped tightly in his right hand, consulted a video wrist-map strapped to his left arm. He made it back to the space-warp with three seconds to spare, leaped through, and burned two long grooves in the marble floor of Mordru's receiving room before he skidded to a halt.
Mordru was sitting on his throne, as ever, not giving a thing away by his expression.
Zoom smiled and handed the belt over. He'd been snatched out of the time stream just as he was headed back to the blasted 20th Century. This time, he was going to give that snooty Iris West the ultimatum: warm his bed, or wind up dead. Of course, the messenger and Mordru had informed him that, if he'd refused their offer, he'd be turned into the world's fastest ghost. So he chose the path of discretion--for the moment.
Mordru fastened the belt around his waist, expanding it a bit. Then he pressed a control button, and the nigh-impenetrable field of force surrounded him. It lifted him out of the throne a couple of inches.
"You have performed your mission," stated Mordru.
Zoom stood with his arms folded. "Great, Big M. Now, can I go back to my own century?"
"No," said Mordru.
Zoom smashed his hands together at multi-Mach speed. "That's just great," he muttered.
"What?" asked Mordru, snapping his head up to look at Zoom.
The speedster plastered a smile onto his face, very quickly. "I
said...that's just GREAT!"
Dev, Kara, and Laurel had exited the warp shortly after their entry into it. Dev knew of a passageway into a parallel universe (like branch lines joining the main trunk, thought Kara) with an Earthlike planet not far from the aperture. The chances of being trailed there by the trio of enemies was next to nil.
And Laurel was hurt.
Moving at hyperspeed, the threesome crossed the void of space, entered the atmosphere of the target world, decelerated with air friction turning them into a trio of fire-auraed meteors, and splashed down in a sea near a small island to negate the burn. By the time Dev and Kara hauled themselves and Laurel out of the water, their surface temperatures presented no fire hazard.
The island was less than a mile in circumference, but, thankfully, had a decent grass-covered surface upon which they could set Laurel. She was still awake, but a bit groggy. Her left eye was sporting a decent-sized bruise underneath it, and the exposed parts of her body (which, given her scanty suit, was quite a lot) bore a goodly number of red and dark blue marks.
Kara cradled Laurel's head in her lap and X-rayed her for damage. "No concussion," she reported. "Laurel, talk to me."
"I'm all right," sighed Laurel. "Well, mostly. I'm, like, really sorry, guys. I guess I blew it for you."
Dev, standing over her, bent down closer. "You did fine, kid. Your power just isn't the aggressive kind, is all. We didn't know what kind of reception we'd get from Mordru. And I brought us in there undermanned."
"Or underwomanned," said Kara. "But don't blame yourself, Dev. We thought three of us would be enough to take on Satan Girl. Mordru was just smart enough to double-think us, is all."
Laurel sat up, felt around in her mouth with her hand, and decided all her teeth were still in the same places. But her fingers came out with a bit of blood on them. She spit on the ground, trying to get the taste out.
Kara sighed. "What do I look like, Dev?"
He touched her face. "Abso marvelous, Kara. Bit of a nasty scratch on your left cheek there, and your hair's all messed. You've gone a few rounds, but you'll be okay."
She smiled and held his wrist to keep him from pulling his hand away too quickly. "Thanks. I can tell by the way my ribs feel that I'm going to feel like a hockey player after the big game when I get up tomorrow. Don't expect me to explain hockey. You've got a few bungs, too, but looks like you came out all right."
He tousled her hair for a moment. Laurel grinned, but didn't say anything.
"So what do we do now?" asked Kara.
"Guess we go back home, make our report, and figure a better plan," said Dev. "We tried the soldier's way this time. Next time, we'll try the spy's way. I'm more comfortable with that, anyway."
Laurel drew up her knees and leaned on them. "Guess I'll be left Earthside, then. I'm not much help in a thing like this."
Kara grabbed her bare shoulder. "Stop it, Laurel. You did about as well as anybody out there, and Dev is right...we should find a way of infiltration, not confrontation. You'll be fine."
Dev exhaled. "How was it for you, Kara?"
She looked at him. "Scary. I can't even stand looking at
her. But I've got to take her down."
She paused. "And the longer I wait, the more chances she gets to kill somebody."
Dev-Em took Laurel's hand and pulled her up. "Feel good enough to travel, darling?"
Laurel brushed her hair back with her hand. "Yeah. Just remind me to get a full-body suit when we get there. Either that, or I'll dye myself blue to match the bruises."
"All right, then," said Dev. He extended his hands to the women. They took them, and the three left the planet's surface in tandem.
An observer from below would have lost their image in two seconds.
Satan Girl touched down at a marketplace on Zerox. A brown-cloaked fruit merchant was haggling with a well-dressed buyer over the price of banyo. They didn't even notice her presence until she grabbed the merchant's shoulder. He looked up at her with surprise...and then terror.
She reached her hand into one of his fruit bins, selected a banyo, and brought it up to her mouth. She took a bite, chewed the pulpy-sweet meat of it. "Very good," she said, juice running from the side of her mouth. "Really, you should get full price for these."
Then she turned her heat-vision on the man.
The buyer, to his dying day, never forgot what it looked like to see a human being vaporized in stages, starting at the head and working down to the feet. It was done within three seconds. Only a burnt spot on the ground and a cloud of evil-smelling steam remained.
The buyer fell on his hands and knees and vomited.
The entire marketplace was silent with shock.
Satan Girl regarded the burned spot for another moment. "Always wanted to know what it'd be like to do that," she said, nonchalantly.
Then she leaped into the air again as the throng below her erupted in screams of horror and rage.
She smiled. Now, she actually felt she could get through the rest of the day.