She was battered and injured and could barely rise to her feet, but she knew the worst was over. “Amalak’s creature had some built-in command to kill me even without that killer’s mind-controlling things. You saved me!” she said.
The alien who stood before the Maid of Steel was much larger. He had fish-like red scales and a massive chest. He spoke in a chirping tone, yet he spoke in English. “Of course I saved you! Who would not preserve his only means of self-elevation? I am called Kraken, and it is a name associated only with disgrace and defeat, because I fell before a daughter of Argo City! That hated realm halted my progress on the spiritual plane. I tried to conquer it, and I lost. I lived with the shame as one that could not touch or be touched by those of my race who knew no such shame.
“Then I found Supergirl, and in her I found a chance for a new start! With her blood, I could rise again and join my peers on a higher plane of existence. She would redeem me when I took her life. She came from Argo City, and if I could defeat and master her, then so would I erase that disgrace that left me beneath all other members of my race! She also bested me. (*) I knew a thousand regrets, and I raged with anger when I heard she also had died, but not at my hands! Now, when an alien invasion has brought all eyes on your world, I have found you, and I smell the scent of Argo City in your very genes! You will die, and I will ascend!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Call Me Kraken,” Supergirl v2 #18 (April, 1984).]
Supergirl reeled backward as he gestured, and black fire enveloped her. Magic? she thought. I can’t believe this! Another alien who sees me as nothing more than a poor second to Kara. This thing views my life as an obstacle to his own aspirations! I cannot stand any more of this! She realized that the Kraken had only saved her from Amalak in order to kill her himself.
She grunted in pain and fought through the black fire to punch him backward. In spite of his greater mass, she was stronger than he was. Still, he commanded forces beyond her control or understanding.
Supergirl vibrated at super-speed and vanished from view. The tactic was designed to buy her time to think of her next move. She returned to view and froze the alien within a block of ice generated by her super-breath.
He remained still within the block until a red glow filled the block and melted it around him. “My super-science is like magic to your primitive mind,” said the Kraken. “That is why I will triumph. That is why I should have triumphed over your ancestors years ago!”
Supergirl fell beneath a cloud of black energy and struggled to get up. She realized that he was using a belt device to produce his attacks. She darted forward and grabbed the belt. As she crushed it to dust, a massive energy discharge knocked her out. She saw the Kraken fall with her last glimpse of the world around her.
Later, as she awoke, she sat up only to find herself within a cage. The cage was barely large enough to hold her, and she was forced to stay on her knees with her face bent forward to the ground. I’m alive, but that’s the most I can say! she thought. While she tried to move, the tight constricting cage prevented her from rising. She listened and heard the hum of machines. I am on a spacecraft. The Kraken is taking me into space!
She saw him out of the corner of her eye. He had apparently recovered from the explosion first and had carried her into his ship. He turned and said, “Forgive me for having to confine you thusly. I seek not to be cruel. I want only to take your life in combat. This pains me, too. Still, I have to take you to where we will not be interrupted. You are my last chance at redemption. I must be careful not to lose you!”
“I do not understand you,” said Supergirl. “Your religion is based upon a series of combats. If one loses a fight, then the only way to make up for it is to beat the person who won or to conquer some other member of their race?”
Kraken nodded. “Exactly. It is the way of my race.”
“You can’t redeem yourself by barbaric acts,” Supergirl replied. “If your culture is as advanced as you claim, then surely you’ve moved beyond gladiator-styled combat!”
The Kraken shook his head. “I will not listen to such words of doubt and sin. I know the way, and I will follow it or die!”
Supergirl said, “I’m not going to be a party to this madness!” She fired her heat-vision out of the narrow openings of the energy cage and hit a switch on his control panel. He gasped as the cage vanished, and she moved out to face him. “I managed to read the labels on that panel, since your ship uses Interlac-based labels. That’s how I knew which switch would free me!”
She wasted no more time on talking. She was tired and hurt and had lost any patience she might once have displayed. It was time she taught the universe that she was both her own woman and a formidable force for justice. She moved at super-speed and adjusted the ship’s controls at a blinding pace.
Before the Kraken could react, she was back on the attack. She pummeled him, and he fell across the bridge of the ship. He tried to use his weaponry, but she had countered him by dismantling the most obvious instruments before he could even react.
She knocked him across the bridge and twisted an entire metallic railing around him like a futuristic straitjacket. “Now you’ve lost again!” she shouted. “It’s over. Look for your elevation elsewhere. Don’t come after me again, or I’ll make you more of an object of scorn to your people than you are now!” He groaned but said nothing.
Supergirl turned away from him, only to cry out as a flash of green filled the ship. She stumbled across the bridge, blinded by the sudden burst of light and energy. “Amalak!” she said. “He’s here! I know that strange energy being of his did this to me!” She relied on her super-memory to return to one specific section of the ship’s still-undamaged control panel, and she make a few quick adjustments. An electromagnetic pulse disrupted the ship bridge equipment and left the sytho-spine in an helpless state.
As Supergirl’s vision returned, she could see Amalak’s own body nearby. “He traced me here and boarded the ship, but now that I’ve disrupted that odd creature via EMP, it seems like Amalak himself is in a coma. I guess that is due to the weird symbiotic connection that Kryptonian Killer had with the thing. Scattering it did no good. Knocking Amalak out did no good. It required an attack on an electrical-based level to short-circuit both the thing and the owner!” She bound the space pirate quickly and watched as the now-inert syntho-spine floated listlessly around the deck.
I wrecked the ship with that pulse, but I can still get home on the smaller skimmer in its lower deck, she thought. I guess I’d better turn these two over to the JLA. They can hold them until this alien invasion nightmare ends, and access to a prison world can be regained!
She stared out at the stars and wondered just how such a beautiful environment could produce so much hate.