by Martin Maenza
A few hours later, back on Multivac, the group of heroes all stood on the deck overlooking the surgical arena. Color Kid had his face pressed up against the glass window, watching a quartet of doctors work about the ice with devices. Fire Lad was down there, too. When he saw his colleagues, Fire Lad waved up to them.
“Hmmph,” Color Kid pouted. “How come Staq gets to be down there?”
“His powers are the best to help,” Chlorophyll Kid replied.
“Still can’t see why we all can’t be there,” Color Kid grumbled.
“Its best we stay out of the doctors’ way,” Night Girl said as she gave her old friend a calming shoulder rub.
Cosmic Boy checked the time on the wall. “Not sure how long we can stay and watch, Lydda,” Rokk Krinn started to say.
“Just a little while longer, Rokk, please,” begged Lydda Jath.
“All right,” Cosmic Boy said, nodding. He then turned his attention to what was going on below.
“I’m definitely getting some readings,” said Dr. Fngall, a feathery humanoid with a beak.
“Are you sssaying one of them isss alive?” asked Dr. Asssgh, who had green skin and scales.
“Of course he is,” snapped Dr. Grd’ll, a four-armed physician with purple skin. “Are you implying Fngall is some kind of quack?”
“Gentleman, please,” said Dr. Hastings, an older human. “If we’re getting readings, one of them might still be alive. We need to get them out of there.” He turned to the reptilian doctor. “Asssgh, prepare to drop the stasis field.”
“Yesss,” the reptilian doctor nodded. He knew that was, in part, keeping the ice intact about the two frozen men, despite the rather warm nature of the room. He would be sad to see the block go, though, as that was keeping things a bit cooler in here. He much preferred the lower temperatures.
“Fire Lad,” Dr. Hastings said, turning to the hero, “we’re ready for you.”
“Yes, sir,” the Substitute Legionnaire snapped to attention. He took his place before the block of ice and began to exhale. The flames from his mouth danced across the frozen surface, licking at it with great hunger. In a few moments, a pool of water began to form near the base of the block of ice, inching its way out.
The four doctors stood behind the hero, taking readings and notes, all the while watching the situation carefully.
The difference in temperature was strikingly noticeable.
How long? he thought. How long has it been?
It was like waking from a sleep, a very long sleep. The light about him was bright, too bright. Nothing was in focus, all a blur. He wanted to blink or to raise his arms up to rub his eyes, but he felt stiff, like he couldn’t move.
What’s going on?
After a moment, the brightness lessened, or more likely his eyes readjusted to things. The blurry images around him started to come into focus. He could make out things about him, shiny things. It looked like…
There were sounds, too, the sound of crackling flame and of gibbering voices. When his head, still aching and unsure, could not move, he went for something smaller: his eyes. He repositioned his eyes in their sockets and saw a number of odd-colored and odd-looking figures.
They were talking in a strange tongue, gesturing to one another and gawking at him.
Anger welled up inside him, causing his heart to beat faster and his aching muscles to tense.
Rotten, stinking aliens!
He wanted to kill them — kill them all. And he remembered why, too. Memories flashed in his brain of a laboratory in space. There were reptilian aliens poking and prodding him, studying him and others, all who were snatched up for some sick and twisted studies.
And then the man called Prometheus remembered what happened next. Others had come to free the captives. But that was when he saw his friend, now transformed through some sick experiments into a hideous, hulking beast, go running off deeper into the complex. He tried to catch up to his friend, to get him to safety. And that’s when everything exploded around them. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Invasion, Book 3, Chapter 5: Destruction.]
Behemoth, the man thought sadly. He wanted to bow his head in sorrow, and surprisingly his muscles responded.
As his head dropped, the aliens about him gibbered and squawked.
And Prometheus saw, in his hands still frozen in ice below his chest, was Behemoth. His friend, deformed and unmoving.
Prometheus let out a great big howl in anger.
His muscles tensed again, and the remaining ice shattered.
“–maybe is just some kind of hibernation,” Stone Boy was saying to the others, Dag Wentim’s back to the glass windows. “You know that’s how my people survive long periods of–”
“Dag, shut up and look!” Antennae Boy shouted.
The whole group looked down as the metallic figure in the ice howled, and the remains of the icy block shattered.
“We have to get down there,” Cosmic Boy commanded as he made for the stairs. The others quickly followed.
When the group burst into the surgical lab, the metallic figure was on a rampage. The equipment had been knocked over or ripped from the wall. Fire Lad and Dr. Hastings were knocked to the ground as Dr. Grd’ll was thrown on top of them.
“You!” Cosmic Boy shouted. “Stop right now!”
Prometheus looked up but could not understand a word the youth said. This was in part because the hero, like the others, spoke Interlac, and in part because his anger and fury consumed him. He swung his great fists aside, knocking doctors Fngall and Asssgh into opposing walls.
Antennae Boy bent over to some of the fallen men. He put his hands first against Fire Lad’s neck. “Staq is OK,” he pronounced. “Just the wind knocked out of him, I think.” He put his hand to the human doctor’s neck. “But I’m not… not getting a pulse here.”
“Tend to him!” Cosmic Boy growled. “I’ll deal with this guy myself!”
The Braalian hero thrust out his black-gloved hands and concentrated. Like all the residents of his homeworld, Rokk Krinn possessed the ability to manipulate magnetic waves of energy. While he started out like many on his world, looking to become famous as a magno-ball player, Rokk soon realized there was more that he could do. He had come to Earth fourteen years ago and found that he could make a bigger difference with his powers. What ended up happening was that he became one of the founding members of the galaxy’s most famous team of heroes: the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Facing a rampaging menace such as this was par for the course for a hero such as he. “This ends now!” Cosmic Boy said as he sent a wave of magnetic energy about the angered figure. His hope was to buffer the metallic skin of the being and hold him fast, like a fly caught in amber.
“What can we do?” Color Kid whispered to his team leader as they watched Cosmic Boy at work.
Chlorophyll Kid was himself feeling quite useless. The lab itself was devoid of any plant life, making his accelerated growth powers nearly useless in this situation. He was fumbling through his pockets, trying to see if he had any useful seeds about his uniform. “Take Stone Boy and make sure the area around here is clear,” the green-costumed youth said. “We can’t risk any other civilians getting hurt.”
Color Kid nodded. He tapped Stone Boy on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow. The two took off.
Night Girl, meanwhile, watched silently as her boyfriend concentrated on besting the threat. Without any darkness to support her, the young woman’s power level remained that of a normal woman. Only when it was night did she possess super-strength. There was little else she could do but stand by for support. “That’s it, Rokk,” she said. “You’ve got him. You’ve got him.”
Cosmic Boy continued to remain focused on his task at hand. Have to keep this in a tight, controlled wave, he thought to himself. I could easily cause this whole place to come apart if I don’t. Luckily, it appeared that he was doing just that, for the rampaging man seemed to be nearly immobilized. With each step, he was struggling to reach his attacker.
Prometheus gritted his teeth as the waves of energy rocked him. It… can’t end… like this! he vowed silently. I won’t… let it! As his agitation increased, so did the temperature on the surface of his body. Within seconds, his metallic shell was starting to glow red hot.
Cosmic Boy was too focused to notice, but Night Girl caught it. “Rokk, look out!” she shouted in warning.
But it was too late. A surging blast of heat exploded from Prometheus, catching the heroes off-guard. The sweltering burst of air rocked them backward.
“Ugh!” Cosmic Boy groaned. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Rokk, he’s running!” Night Girl shouted.
And, indeed, now free from the magnetic field, Prometheus was bolting out the door of the surgical arena. “After him!” Cosmic Boy shouted.
Prometheus was equally surprised. I… I never was able to do that before, he thought to himself as he ran. To project my heat… it must be due to those alien experiments! Already his body surface was cooling back to normal. I have to get out of here! As he ran down the corridors, various medical staff threw themselves against the walls. Prometheus ignored their gawking looks and gibberish screams.
“Hold it right there, or I’ll shoot!” Gigi Cusimano ordered. She stood with a wide stance, a blaster pistol in her two hands. Prometheus did not pause, so she opened fire. The blaster shots ricocheted off his hide. “Blast!”
“Maybe I can do better!” Porcupine Pete offered. He threw his right arm up and let fly a barrage of quills from the back of his arm. Like the blaster fire, they, too, bounced off the fleeing man. “I guess not.”
Cosmic Boy and the others hurried past. Gigi grabbed Pete. “Come on!”
A door to the docking bay slid open, and two figures stepped through the door. One was a young woman with flowing purple hair and two antennae of a white color that matched that of most of her skin tone. The rest of her complexion consisted of splotches of blue, green, and purple. The other was a young man dressed in white pants and a red shirt with the Roman numeral two stitched on the chest. He looked like a normal human except for the two bald heads that protruded from his rather large neck.
“…so the man says to the bartender, ‘Tell you what, let’s make that a double’!” the rightmost head of the hero Double-Header said, completing his joke. He then started to laugh.
Infectious Lass couldn’t help but let out a little giggle.
The rightmost head leaned into his left and whispered, “Come on, laugh!”
“No!” the left head said firmly. “I think it’s appalling that you’re hitting on Drura. She’s dating Pete. He’s a friend.”
The right head shook. “All’s fair in love and wa–” His words were cut off when a huge metallic man burst about the corner and charged directly for them.
“Mother of Gemini!” the left head shouted.
“Dru, look out!” the right head started to warn.
The metal man slammed into Double-Header, knocking him aside. Infectious Lass gasped. The man paused, eyed her curiously, and then grabbed her and pulled her close. It appeared by his actions that he meant to use her for a shield.
“Owww!” Double-Header’s right shouted from the ground as he rubbed his skull that had hit the wall. “We’ve got to save her!”
“How are we going to stop him?” the left head countered.
Just then, Cosmic Boy and the others rounded the corner. “You! Stop! And let the girl go!” he shouted. Having been on the receiving end of the man’s heat-blast earlier, he was concerned for Infectious Lass’ safety. His brain scrambled to come up with a plan to stop the man from escaping without hurting anyone else.
“Drura!” Night Girl shouted. “Don’t panic!”
Prometheus shouted something intelligible at the heroes. Cosmic Boy picked up bits and pieces, having been a student of old Earth history. The tongue sounded a bit like twentieth-century English, now that he thought about it.
“Rokk, we have to do something!” Night Girl insisted.
“I know,” he said. “I’m thinking.”
Chlorophyll Kid caught up to the others and saw his teammate in jeopardy. Suddenly, an idea hit him. “Drura, the Naltorian flu! Now!” he shouted to her.
The alien woman nodded, turned her head, and looked at her captor. “This is for the best,” she said to him. Suddenly, her body began to emit the infection that her team leader suggested. The tight, close contact she had with man, she hoped, would be sufficient. “I hope you breathe.”
Prometheus inhaled, then blinked a few times. Suddenly, his eyes began to flutter rapidly, and his grip on the young woman loosened. Infectious Lass was able to pull free and move away just before he fell to the floor with a loud thud.
“Timmm-berrr!” Chlorophyll Kid joked.
“Drura, are you all right?” Porcupine Pete asked as he clutched his girlfriend carefully.
“I am,” she said, a bit shaken. She turned to Chlorophyll Kid. “Good thinking, Ral.”
“Yes,” Cosmic Boy had to admit. “Very good thinking.”
“Not really,” admitted the plump hero named Ral Benem. “I contracted that a few months ago. Slept for days. I figured something like that was harmless enough to him in the long run, but effective enough to take the fight out of him.”
“You saved the day!” Night Girl cheered. The other subs crowded around their teammate and congratulated him.
Cosmic Boy approached the fallen Prometheus and made sure he was out. Then he realized what had to be done next.