Justice League of America: Pyre, Chapter 6: The Conquest of Earth

by JSAGL

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Back at the Conglomerate Flyer, Looker and Sargon the Sorcerer had finally convinced Lobo to let them take the mental blocks out of his mind that had reined in his violent nature.

“I just wanna know how the hell Lord put some blocks in my mind. Wouldn’t that hurt?

Hush, Lobo. I can’t concentrate. And please stop thinking about my breasts. Don’t you want your revenge on Despero?”

Lobo smiled. “That’s a tough choice, babe.”

A few more minutes, and Looker stood up in frustration. “Arrgghh! I can’t do it!”

Sargon took her by the shoulders. “Lia, you must. The fate of our fellow heroes rests upon your ability to do so.”

“The blocks are too complex. I haven’t had the experience necessary to undo them.”

“But I do,” a shaky voice said as the Martian Manhunter sat down next to Lobo.

“J’onn, are you–?”

“I am still weak, but I believe with your help, we can put Lobo back in the game,” J’onn J’onzz said as he stared into Lobo’s eyes. “My mind to your mind… my thoughts to your thoughts…”

Sargon looked on amused as J’onn uttered those words. “Fascinating.”

A few minutes later, Lobo jumped up as the Manhunter completed his task. “Yee-friggin’-haw, the main man is back! Now to go kick me some fin-headed ass. Uhh, hey, Sargon, couldja do me one favor?”

***

Meanwhile, as Despero began to move toward Batman, the wind began to blow against him. The harder he tried, the more pressure the wind exerted, as though it were alive. “Impressive, Batman. I did not know that you had control over the weather, but it will not save you from the power of my third–”

Before Despero could complete the sentence, Batman looked him directly in the eyes and shouted, “Tornado! Now!”

Jumping away with all the strength he could muster, Batman observed as a large lightning bolt emerged from the storm clouds above and struck Despero with the force of Zeus himself. Despero screamed. The Red Tornado — still in the wind elemental form he had been in the last time the JLA saw him during the Crisis — descended from the storm clouds and gently lifted Batman to his feet using wispy tendrils of air. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Force of Nature,” Justice League of America Annual #3 (1985).]

A guttural sound erupted as Despero emerged from the dust cloud, scorched and very angry. “Now you will die!”

A chain suddenly whipped around Despero. “Uh-uh. No one’s dyin’ today ‘cept you, fin-head. The main man’s back, and you’re fishie food.”

Lobo stood before Despero, his chain wrapped tightly around the Kalanoran despot, his clothes — thanks to Sargon’s magic — once more the biker apparel he had come to like.

“Any last words ‘fore I rip that fin off yer head? No one kills my fishies and gets away with it!”

Despero looked the main man in the eye. “Just one — die!”

Snapping out of the chains, Despero lunged for Lobo, and the two aliens engaged in mortal combat. Blows were exchanged that could level mountains, yet neither seemed to yield. If anything, they seemed to get stronger with each passing moment. Despero unleashed his third eye, and Lobo laughed.

On the sidelines, Batman began directing the other Leaguers. “G.L., you’re up. Fire, Ice, now.”

Green Lantern, only now awakening, fired off a string of power ring-created green boxing gloves at Despero. At the same time, Fire directed her powers at Despero, and Ice did the same. The villain shrugged them off as one would a mosquito.

Batman observed for a moment as Lobo continued to pummel Despero. “Superman, time for your heat-vision. Are you up to it?”

Superman was silent as he directed his heat beams at Despero, while Green Arrow fired a series of concussion arrows at the villain. Gathering the storm clouds once again, Red Tornado assaulted Despero with the power of lightning, like mighty Zeus himself hurling bolts from Mount Olympus. Using the lasers she had earlier, Hawkwoman joined the assault. Despero began to grow annoyed as Batman motioned the final Leaguer into play.

On the battlefield, Lobo continued to grapple with Despero, getting hit accidentally with some of the JLA’s assault, but it was Despero who bore the brunt. As the attacks increased, Despero found himself unable to ignore them, but Lobo commanded his attention. Despero felt the heat burn into his side. Damn the Kryptonian. He felt the laser beam cut into his back. That was the last straw.

Calling on all his reserve, Despero channeled his energy into his third eye. He felt something else touch him, and the rage poured out as his eye opened, a blinding flash covering everything around. When it cleared, Despero stood alone. Lobo lay at his feet, bloody and defeated. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Tornado, Fire, Ice — all of them lay unconscious.

Finally, the day had been won, and today was Despero’s day.

The members of the Justice League and the Conglomerate hung from the trees that Despero had gathered for his Flame of Pytar. The time had come. Despero uttered a silent prayer and then opened his third eye. A voice cried out from the pyre.

“You won’t… get… away… with this…” It was Superman, bloody and bowed, but defiant until the end.

“But I already have,” Despero replied as he let loose the full force of his eye on the Man of Steel. Superman screamed as the beam turned relentlessly hotter until finally the wood caught fire. The magical flames quickly engulfed the heroes. Watching it burn for a moment, Despero slowly walked forward and into the Flame. He emerged from the other side glowing with power — the power of his hated enemies.

Despero smiled. The conquest of Earth began.

Across the globe, this one-man Justice League decimated city after city. Other heroes tried to stop him, but to no avail. The New Titans confronted Despero and were easily dispatched. The Green Lantern Corps, the Outsiders, the Global Guardians, the Doom Patrol, and Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad all tried, but none of them were a match for the might of Despero. Within twenty-four hours, the nations of the world had surrendered. Despero assumed his rightful place as king of the Earth.

Within a week, an army of Kalanorans had occupied the planet to keep the population subservient as Despero plotted his next move. In his orbiting palace, the former JLA Satellite, Despero observed several worlds ripe for the taking: Thanagar, Rann, Tamaran, Rimbor, Khundia, and even Apokolips. Darkseid would make an excellent challenge.

Motioning his attendants away, Despero sat back in his throne. It’s good to be king, he thought as his eyes began to flutter, but I haven’t slept in over a month. I’ll just close my eyes for a moment.

***

On the battlefield, Lobo continued to grapple with Despero, getting hit accidentally with some of the JLA’s assault, but it was Despero who bore the brunt. As the attacks increased, Despero found himself unable to ignore them, but Lobo commanded his attention. Despero felt the heat burn into his side. Damn the Kryptonian. He felt the laser beam cut into his back. That was the last straw.

Calling on all his reserve, Despero channeled his energy into his third eye. He felt something else touch him, and the rage poured out as his eye opened, a blinding flash covering everything around. When it cleared, Despero had collapsed to the ground in front of a very surprised Lobo.

“What the frag? Did I kill him?”

The form of the Martian Manhunter shimmered into view, his hand outstretched. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman approached the two. Superman caught J’onn J’onzz, who began to fall. “Black mercy?”

J’onn smiled weakly at Superman. “No, my friend, but something similar. I… shut Despero’s mind down. He will not menace us further.”

“Your plan worked well, Batman.”

Batman’s face remained emotionless. “Partly, but this was J’onn’s idea. He should get the credit for it. He was the one who finally took Despero down.”

Green Lantern encased Despero in shackles and then held him aloft in an energy bubble. “I’ll send Lobo to Oa via the Emerald Express.”

“Now wait just a fraggin’ minute here. I came ta kill fin-head, and I’m not gonna let–”

Lobo was interrupted as Wonder Woman stepped in front of him, bringing her chest to face with the alien bounty hunter. Taking her finger, Nubia lifted Lobo’s chin to avert his gaze from where his eyes had fixated up to her face. “Now, Lobo, I am sure we can find something better to do than kill a mindless sentient. Agreed?”

A big smile crossed Lobo’s lips. “I’ve heard Earth girls are easy. Do ya wanna do it right here? Or ya got sumthin’ a little more private in mind?”

“Actually, I’ve heard of your love of fishies, and my friend Aquaman and I are going to take you to the perfect place.”

“Kinky broad. I like that. What’s he gonna do — watch?

Wonder Woman led Lobo away, and she winked at J’onn, who had been in telepathic communication with her and Aquaman, linking their minds.

As Nubia, Aquaman, and Lobo departed in the Amazon swan ship the new Wonder Woman used for transportation, Green Lantern launched Despero’s body skyward.

“There’s a wormhole directly outside Jupiter’s orbit that leads straight to Oa. I’ve alerted the Honor Guard on Oa to be ready for his arrival.” Hal Jordan added, “And now that we’ve dealt with the Despero situation, gentlemen, I believe we’re long overdue to battle an alien invasion!

After Green Lantern explained to the others about Arisia’s warning hours ago of an impending alien invasion, the Martian Manhunter confirmed this through a quick mind scan. He soon learned that the world was in the midst of an invasion by the Alien Alliance, consisting of the Dominators, Thanagarians, and Khunds, as well as a few lesser partners such as the Psions, Durlans, and Daxamites, all united to tame the Earth, that relatively primitive planet that had nevertheless been the focal point of the recent Crisis. He discovered that Harbinger had returned and was coordinating the war efforts. Contacting her, he pledged the JLA’s support and vowed that the team would join the world’s heroes in the eleventh hour, helping them to defeat these aliens once and for all. (*) And they would. But for the moment, they had to take care of their wounded.

[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Strange Visitors, Chapter 5: Doomsday.]

The other Justice Leaguers and the Conglomerate slowly awakened, some on their own, and some, such as Steel, with a little help from their friends. Suddenly, the heroes heard a voice cry out.

“No! No!

The heroes rushed to Ice’s side. They found her kneeling, cradling the Beetle in her lap. Fire put her arms around Tora Olafsdotter. “Sweetheart, what is it? What’s wrong?”

Tora turned to face her friend. “He’s… he’s dead. Despero snapped his neck.”

***

A few hours later, at the office of Maxwell Lord, the doors burst open with an emerald glow. Guy Gardner, Batman, Animal Man, and the Martian Manhunter entered the room.

Lord! Where are you, you slimy piece of vomit?

At his desk, Max puffed on a cigar. “Good to see you back to your old self, Guy. Do come in, gentlemen. Where’s the rest of the team? Off battling little green men like everybody else?”

Grabbing Lord by his shirt collar, Guy put himself only inches from the man’s face. “There is no more team, Max. Thanks to you, the Beetle’s dead! And you’re gonna pay for it!”

Blowing smoke in Guy’s face, Lord removed the Green Lantern’s hands from his collar and stood up. “I’m sorry Ted died, Guy, but that wasn’t my fault. And you’re not going to do anything to me, because despite your bravado, I know that the Manhunter and Batman won’t allow it.”

Stepping past Guy, Batman looked deep into Lord’s eyes. “Won’t we?”

Animal Man spoke up. “We know about you, Max. We know about your mind-control games. It was you that hired those U.N. terrorists. You paid Amos Fortune to attack us. You were the Ace in the Royal Flush Gang. We won’t be a part of this anymore. The Conglomerate is hereby dissolved, and it’s time for you to pay for what you’ve done.”

Max stared at the heroes for a moment, then sat back in his chair. “Get out of my office. If you’re expecting some sort of tear-filled confession or show of remorse, then you are sadly mistaken. Assuming for a moment that any of what you say is true, where’s your proof? You’re supposedly the world’s greatest detective, Batman. Show me your proof.”

There was only silence.

“That’s what I thought. Now get out of here before I have you arrested.”

“This isn’t the end of this, Lord. I’ll be watching you.”

“Good day, Batman.”

Damn. So the Conglomerate’s over. Hmmm. Maybe I need to change my approach.

***

And out in the Atlantic Ocean, Nubia and Aquaman watched as Lobo swam with a school of dolphins, playing like a little child — and laughing. Earth must not be such a bad place, Lobo thought, if it’s home to critters like my fishies.

***

And out past the orbit of Jupiter, Lord Manga Khan, in the process of rebuilding his ship, intercepted an emerald parcel. “Hmm. This might be of some value. L-Ron! Where are you?”

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